A potential matchup between Mark Andrews and Jalen Ramsey is an intriguing subplot of Sunday's Ravens-Rams game.
Andrews leads all NFL tight ends in receptions (93) and receiving yards (1,187), making a strong case to be considered the best player at his position.
Ramsey is regarded by many to be the best cornerback in the NFL, a unique player who is physical and agile enough to cover outside receivers, slot receivers and tight ends. He spent last weekend virtually erasing star wide receiver Justin Jefferson from the Minnesota Vikings passing attack.
The Rams are deploying Ramsey all over the field more than ever this year, and Andrews is sizzling hot, with more receiving yards than any player in the league over the past three weeks. It's anticipated that Ramsey may cover Andrews at least some of the time, and he's well aware of how gifted Ramsey is.
"He's a different type of corner than most out there," Andrews said. "Very versatile, extremely strong but fast, physical, all those different things makes him an elite guy. That's going to be a tough matchup for anybody that he goes against."
Andrews said he's not sure how much of Ramsey he'll see Sunday.
"I don't know exactly who's going to get matched up. The first time we played against them, it was a few times that I went against him," Andrews said. "Obviously, [he's] great player, [and it's a] huge matchup. There are a lot of guys on our team. Our receivers are balling out, so we'll see what happens with that."
Already the first Ravens tight end to surpass 1,000 receiving yards in a season, Andrews (1,187 yards) is just 15 yards away from breaking the franchise record for most yards in a season (1,201) set by wide receiver Michael Jackson in 1996.
Andrews plays for wins, not records. But he knows setting the team's receiving yards record at home Sunday would be special.
"It's a cool thing to be able to put up big numbers, make big plays and try to help this team out and win games," Andrews said. "But at the end of the day, I'm a team guy. All I really want to do is win games. It's cool to be able to have these numbers and do these type of things. But if we're not winning games, nothing else matters to me.
"I think I'm like 15 yards away which is pretty cool. Someone said it's been around for like 26 years. That's a big thing, something where your name is stapled into an organization. Not many people get that opportunity. That's going to be a huge honor if I'm able to do that. Something I'm looking forward to for sure."
Bradley Bozeman Prepares for Battle With Aaron Donald
The Rams are loaded with star power, and one of their biggest names is three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, who can dominate a game. Donald may not win his fourth DOP this year over T.J. Watt and Micah Parsons, but Donald is finishing strong and has been a wrecking ball during the Rams' current four-game winning streak.
The Ravens will likely double-team Donald at times, but center Bradley Bozeman will be one of the primary offensive linemen trying to keep him out of the backfield. Anyone who calls Donald the best defensive lineman in football won't get an argument from Bozeman.
"I definitely think he deserves that right and that honor," Bozeman said. "He's a great player, great competitor, really gets after it. Does the right things, makes the plays when they need to be made. I have nothing but good things to say about him. It's going to be a test for sure. We're excited for the challenge."
The Ravens haven't seen Donald since 2019 when they dominated the Rams, 45-6, on Monday Night Football. Donald certainly remembers that game and would like to change the outcome. However, Bozeman will be up for the challenge, expecting one of the NFL's best players to bring out his best.
"I think every competitor's that way," Bozeman said. "It's a real opportunity to be able to showcase the things that you can do on the field. See how you stand up. I look forward to it."
Defense Stoked About Getting Healthier
It's been an extremely challenging season for the Ravens, but seeing defensive players Tyus Bowser, Justin Houston, Chris Westry, Pernell McPhee, Chris Board, Jimmy Smith, Geno Stone and Kristian Welch return off the COVID-19 list since Monday has boosted the unit's spirits.
The Ravens have taken a "next man up" approach all season and have refused to make excuses. But Chuck Clark said there's a different vibe in the locker room and believes the emotional lift will carry into Sunday's game.
"It's going to feel good to have more guys out there compared to the previous two weeks," Clark said. "It's going to feel good for sure to have our dogs. I was just walking from the locker room, hearing guys yelling. That's a little of the energy that we've been missing these past two weeks. Different personalities, different energies, different spirits. Just hearing that, I feel like we're going to be fired up, ready to go this week."
Ja'Wuan James Not Expected to Play This Season
Head Coach John Harbaugh does not expect offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James to play this season. The Ravens signed James in June, one month after he tore his Achilles while training in May. He returned to practice for the first time Dec. 8, but James is running out of time to make enough progress.
"I think that ship has sailed," Harbaugh said. "My position on it was, he'll do the best he can and really make the determination for himself. You're talking about an Achilles, that's something a player has to decide if he feels like he's ready to go. There hasn't been any talk along those lines. As a coach, we're not preparing for him to be back. Of course, you could always be pleasantly surprised, but that's not where we're going right now."