Ravens TE Mark Andrews is not concerned with slump in receiving stats

In just his second season in the league, Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews established himself as one of the premier pass-catchers at the position and earned his first Pro Bowl bid.

He recorded 64 catches, 852 yards, and led all tight ends with 10 touchdown receptions in 15 games in 2019.

Through the first eight games of this season, Andrews isn’t on pace to match or eclipse any of those marks with exception of touchdown catches of which he has five at the midway point.

He has hauled in just 26 passes for 297 yards in that span and has been limited to just eight catches for 75 yards and no touchdowns in the last three games.

While most players that specialize and are accustomed to catching passes and scoring on a near-weekly basis would be frustrated at a reduction in their individual stats and involvement in the offense, Andrews isn’t concerned in the slightest.

“There’s no stress for me,” Andrews said. “The most important thing for me is winning. I’m just trying to help this team win any way I can. I know my abilities. I know what’s going on. If I get balls, I get balls. If I don’t, it is what it is.”

Opposing defenses are defending the Ravens differently every week and are playing especially close attention to Andrews and second-year wide receiver Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown whenever reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson drops back to pass in their games this year.

“Teams and defenses have come at us every week with a different game plan,” Andrews said. “A lot of guys in the middle of the field are eyeing me. I’ve been seeing that for the last two years. I’ve been getting double-teamed. I’m battle-hardened. I’m ready for that, ready for all the attention. That’s going to help other guys get open.”

He’s still averaging just over five targets per game with 44 over the first eight games so he’s still heavily involved in the game plan. Even with more defenders clouding the middle of the field and bracketing him in coverage, Andrews has still found ways to get open and gain separation.

Jackson has routinely made several tight-window throws to the third-year pro with safeties and linebacker close in man coverage and with close proximity in zone and especially in the red zone where he is most dangerous.

“I feel like I’m always open. That’s a mindset that I have. Even when you’re covered, you’re not covered; that’s a tight end mindset, and so I just have to keep on going. Obviously, there’s a lot of different guys, a lot of different pieces on this team that we’re spreading the ball to, and that’s only going to make this team better. I’m not worried about the catches.”

While Andrews hasn’t been putting up gaudy stats as a pass-catcher as of late and isn’t on pace to make back to back trips to the Pro Bowl, he has taken a significant step towards being a more complete tight end with his improved skills as a blocker in the run game.

“You’re known as a tight end for your pass-catching, but you’re respected for your blocking, and Mark takes it very seriously,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “When we were talking to him in the draft, he said he was a blocker. We believed him, but that block he had for Lamar on the touchdown run was something that – it was a good as you’re ever going to see.”

The play in which Harbaugh was referring to in his comments was the incredible block Andrews made on Jackson’s 9-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter of their 24-10 win over Indianapolis this past Sunday.

Jackson rolled out to his left on a bootleg after faking the handoff to running back Gus Edwards and as he was sprinted to the front left pylon, Andrews was bulldozing Indy safety George Odum into the turf in the back of the end zone to ensure he couldn’t affect the play.

“Yes, it was fun,” said Andrews. “Obviously, [I’m] just trying to make a play and help Lamar [Jackson] get some space. I’ve been working on my blocking, just trying to take the mindset and learn from guys like Nick [Boyle] who do that every play. [I’m] just trying to be a good tight end, and that’s what it’s all about. Being a complete tight end is being able to do things like that.”

These kinds of responses to certain levels of adversity, this level of unselfishness from a prominent player, and this kind of view and approach to the game as well as dedication to winning above all are what makes Andrews more than just a big-bodied receiver that is steadily improving as a blocker.

It is what being a Raven is all about and why he fits in perfectly with this offense and team as a whole.

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