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News & Notes: Mark Andrews Thinks Combination With Isaiah Likely Will Be 'Special'

TE Isaiah Likely (left) and TE Mark Andrews (right)
TE Isaiah Likely (left) and TE Mark Andrews (right)

Isaiah Likely's strong finish to last season has created excitement about the Ravens' potential usage of two tight end sets in 2024.

Mark Andrews is intrigued by the possibilities. Likely caught 21 passes for 322 yards and five touchdowns over the final six games while Andrews recovered from ankle surgery. Now that Andrews is healthy, he looks forward to being on the field more in tandem with Likely to put added pressure on opponents.

"It's going to be special," Andrews said. "When you have two guys like that who are dynamic, mismatches all over the field, doesn't matter where you put us, that's tough to gameplan for. Both guys love to play ball, love to compete. It's going to be fun."

Andrews said the blocking of the tight end group that also includes Charlie Kolar continues to improve. That means seeing Andrews and Likely on the field together won't necessarily mean the Ravens are going to pass.

"That's part of being a tight end is doing everything. Keep the defense honest," Andrews said. "That's something I had to learn very early in my career, being able to put your hand down and get dirty. It makes it tough for a defense to gameplan for."

Entering his third season, Likely has continued to pick Andrews' brain during OTAs, looking for techniques to use. Likely said Andrews' name "holds a lot of weight" and the Ravens have many weapons to draw opponents' attention.

"[I'm] finding my way in the offense as a chess piece, just seeing where I can fit in," Likely said. "Having all of us on the same field at the same time, you don't know whether it's going to be run or pass, and you don't know where the explosive play can come from."

Hip-Drop Tackle Won't Be Missed By Andrews

Andrews suffered his injury on a hip drop tackle by Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson, a tackling technique that was banned by the NFL this offseason. Andrews thinks banning that tackle was the right move.

"I'm always an advocate for making the game safer," Andrews said. "You look at the last five years, there's been a lot of big injuries with that. Bringing the awareness to that type of tackle is good. Keeping guys healthy is going to be great. Take that tackle out of the game, is not a bad thing I don't think. Defenses can find a way to get around that."

Andrews Gives His Take on Possible Changes to Offseason

The NFL offseason could be headed for major change ,after NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported the NFLPA will propose a change for the timeline of offseason work.

Essentially, the current six-week break between OTAs and the starting of training camp would be eliminated. Instead, players would begin work later in the offseason and begin a ramp-up schedule that rolled straight into training camp.

Players are keeping an eye on the development, but Andrews said he isn't bothered by the current offseason work schedule format.

"I don't really mind it," Andrews said. "I think this is a good time period for guys coming back here working. You're able to get with the team, get the plays in, then you get that extra break off which is kind of nice for your body.

"I don't know the right answer to that. It could be both, I haven't done it the other way."

Greg Lewis Impressed With Malik Cunningham's Transition to Wide Receiver

Now officially listed as a wide receiver, Malik Cunningham has consistently impressed onlookers during OTAs, including Wide Receivers Coach Greg Lewis. Cunningham was a college quarterback at Louisville but is trying to make the roster at his new position.

Cunningham's route running and awareness look natural to Lewis for someone relatively new to the position.

"He's done a great job of transitioning from the quarterback position to the receiver position, working with Zay [Flowers] and Sean Ryan and Bate [Rashod Bateman]," Lewis said. "They're bringing him along and teaching him the nuances of playing receiver.

"But he understands spatial awareness from the quarterback perspective. Obviously, he understands zone coverage. Now it's just getting him to do the little things as receivers do it because he hasn't done it a bunch."

Lewis said Cunningham's athleticism and awareness have made the transition look easier than it is.

"It's just about being on the same page with the quarterback and understanding different leverages of defensive backs," Lewis said. "Until you're in that situation, you don't know, but Malik is a great athlete, and he understands how to move around. He was at quarterback running away from the big dudes. He's a smart kid, so he's doing a great job from that standpoint. I would say that's the biggest thing [about moving] from quarterback to receiver is just feeling the zones and understanding where you need to be, and he's ahead of the curve because he sat back there as the quarterback throwing it before."

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