After practicing on a limited basis all three days last week before getting deactivated for the Ravens’ eventual 26-14 victory at the Pittsburgh Steelers, rookie tight end Hayden Hurst said he anticipates making his NFL debut Sunday at the Cleveland Browns Sunday.
“I’d imagine that I’d go,” Hurst said Wednesday. “I’m a full-go in practice today, and we’ll see how it feels throughout the week. I’m healthy, and I’m excited to get back out there.”
Hurst, the organization’s first selection in April’s draft, has not practiced since Aug. 23, one day before undergoing surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot. Although he returned to the practice field last week, he was limited and noted he did not spend much time with the starting offense.
“I was healthy enough, but throughout the week, just didn’t get the first-team reps and all that to be prepared for the game,” he said. “My foot felt great. I could’ve gone if they needed me, but there was no sense in rushing it.”
Asked if he had any hesitations about the foot, Hurst said, “Once I get out there, I’m just going to let it rip.”
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Hurst’s absence has been filled ably by his teammates at that position. Maxx Williams leads the group in receptions (12) and is tied with rookie Mark Andrews for the lead among the tight ends in receiving yards (119). Nick Boyle has added nine catches for 104 yards.
“Those guys have been making plays week in and week out, and it’s exciting to see that,” Hurst said. “They’re some of my good buddies, and it’s a really good room, full of great tight ends. [Quarterback] Joe [Flacco] utilizes the tight ends a lot. So I’m excited to get in there.”
Flacco, who ranks in the top 10 in the league in completions, yards and touchdown passes, welcomed Hurst’s return.
“I think we have a well-rounded group of tight ends,” he said. “Maxx and Nick can really do a lot of everything, and they’re such physical players that when they do get the ball in their hands, they’re tough to bring down. And then Mark’s done a great job of stepping in. The addition of Hayden, obviously the kind of player he is, is going to help us out. Just the variation we can have with those guys and the looks we can create, it’s just going to make us even more multiple and tougher to defend. So I think it’s going to help us a lot.”
Hurst said he is willing to accept whatever role the offensive coaches give him. He just wants to make a contribution.
“It’s been five weeks,” he said. “I was playing pretty good in the preseason and kind of hit a speed bump with the foot. Five weeks away from football, it’s not fun.”