In 2019, the Ravens' tight ends were one of the main drivers of Baltimore's league-leading offense. The past two seasons, however, it's been the Mark Andrews solo show at tight end, for the most part.
Three tight ends were among the Ravens' top five receivers in 2019. Andrews led the team with 852 receiving yards, Hayden Hurst was third with 349, and Nick Boyle was fifth with 321.
While Andrews has continued to carry the load, including 1,361 yards last season, Baltimore's other true tight ends (not including Pat Ricard) have posted just 72 cumulative receiving yards over the past two years.
Blocking is still a critical part of the job, but this season, Andrews expects the tight ends room to get back to being an all-around offensive engine in Baltimore.
While Andrews will still lead the way, he's confident Boyle is back stronger, and rookie fourth-round picks Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely have already made strong first impressions.
"We have a great room," Andrews said last week during organized team activities. "It's going to be scary. We've got a lot of tight ends that can play some ball.
"I think with just having all these guys, we're going to have the ability … I think [when] you look at last year, we got a little thin at times. There's a lot of guys in our room that can play football, and we're only going to get better and better, learn the offense more."
Andrews said Boyle and his family (wife and two kids) spent much of the offseason in Arizona, hanging with Andrews and training together. Boyle hasn't been the same since suffering a major knee injury midway through the 2020 season. He returned to play in five games last year, but he was still hobbled and caught just one pass for 2 yards.
Boyle's bread and butter is blocking, but he was a valuable and reliable pass catcher when needed prior to the knee injury. Now he's looking to get back to being a mauler on the line who can also move well enough to supplement in the aerial attack.
"We had a good time out there [in Arizona]," Andrews said. "But I saw how hungry he was. And if you see him right now, he looks like a different person. He's ready to go."
Kolar and Likely come to Baltimore looking to provide improved depth and the potential to chip in as receivers. They could be called on more than the average fourth-round rookie considering Baltimore lost a couple wide receivers this offseason and didn't draft one to replace them.
Kolar is in the same mold as Andrews – a big target over the middle and in the red zone who has a good feel for finding open spots and making contested catches. Likely is fast with big-play potential and could be used across the formation to create mismatches as a receiver.
"It feels like they're lightyears ahead of where I was [as a rookie], or how I felt," Andrews said. "They're very confident, they understand the offense, they're running great routes, they're catching the ball well. The moment is not too big for them, which is great to see for them.
"I think they both have a natural, kind of, knack for football [and] understanding the game – which is special. I think both of those guys are going to (be) good players for long time."
For Andrews, the goals remain the same after turning in a monstrous 2021 season. He wants to win a Super Bowl. That's part of why he reported for the start of organized team activities. He also wanted to work with the rookies, helping them to learn the ropes quicker as a mentor.
Kolar, who grew up in Norman, Okla., loved watching Andrews play at Oklahoma and emulated him. Kolar joked after being drafted that he planned to “annoy” Andrews with so many questions.
"It's humbling," Andrews said. "For me, when I came out of the league, there's certain guys that I really looked at and looked up to. So, for me, to kind of be that type of guy [and] role model, I'm going to (do) everything I can to help both of these young guys – every one of these tight ends – in any way I can, share my knowledge, share what I can do."