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Ravens TE Mark Andrews showing ‘natural feel’ for getting open during standout season | NOTES

When Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman was coaching the team’s tight ends in 2018, he knew there was something special about Mark Andrews. A rookie at the time, Andrews was only in the team’s facility for less than a week, but Roman said the third-round draft pick had a natural feel for the game.

“I went upstairs and basically told everybody, ‘This guy has got a feel. He just has an instinct,’” Roman said. “I think that’s one of his greatest strengths. He knows pretty much how to get open. He has a good feel for it, setting up defenders. He just has a really natural feel for it.”

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Andrews has been one of the NFL’s best tight ends since entering the league. This season has been no different, as Andrews is tied with Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce for the most receiving yards by a tight end (468).

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson said Wednesday that Andrews has been a better player than years past. According to Jackson, it all starts with Andrews’ work ethic.

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“When we were in Arizona [during the offseason], he was getting after it when we were working out,” Jackson said. “He just wants to be the best, and that’s what you need out of your players. Your tight end – whatever position they play – you want the best out of them, and that’s what he’s shown.”

Andrews has recorded 100 or more receiving yards in a game twice this season. In the past two games, he has totaled 215 yards and three touchdowns on 16 receptions. According to Pro Football Focus, Andrews is the highest-graded tight end (91.8) in the NFL.

“He’s always trying to improve,” Roman said. “I think he spent a lot of time this offseason working on releases and different nuances of route running that’s really showing itself on game day. But he’s doing a great job, and we have high expectations for Mark. He does for himself, and that’s where it all starts.”

Andrews said it’s cool to be tied with Kelce in receiving yards. However, there’s more work to be done. “The job is not finished yet,” Andrews said Wednesday. “At the end of the day, there’s only one thing that I care about, and that’s at the end of the season.”

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Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals will also be National Tight Ends Day. Andrews said he plans to celebrate by “going off.”

Special teams advantage

The Ravens’ special teams had the upper hand throughout Sunday’s 34-6 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. The Ravens covered kick returns well, while Devin Dunveray continued to showcase his speed, averaging 14.7 yards on three punt returns and returning a kickoff 47 yards to open the second half.

But special teams coordinator Chris Horton said the Ravens are still not playing their best football, despite a No. 1 ranking by Football Outsiders in special teams efficiency.

“Obviously, we talk about creating great plays, and in order to create great plays, all 11 guys have to be great in fundamentals, technique and execution, and there were a couple things that we didn’t really execute,” Horton said. “You’ve got something to go back to work on and say, ‘OK, if we just did this, maybe we’re not looking at a 50-yard return; we’re looking at a touchdown.’ So, there are always things to correct coming off a game like that, and we know that we’re still not playing our best football.”

Extra points

>> Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale said safety DeShon Elliott is a positionless player that can line up all over the field. Elliott was a force in the Ravens’ secondary during Sunday’s victory over the Chargers, as he recorded three tackles, an interception, a sack and two pass breakups.

“We play him all over the place,” Martindale said. “It makes it hard for the offense to see who’s who and who is going where and everything else. But the way he pressured, and the way he’s moving this year – and I’ve talked about that before, coming [to] the second year off the knee injury – he’s really playing at a high level, and I’m really happy for him.”

Martindale said Elliott is always playing with a ton of energy, to the point he has to tell the third-year safety to slow down. “Half the time, I’m telling him, ‘Just breathe, just breathe,’” Martindale said. “He has an edge to him, and I think that’s part of the reason he is who he is.”

>> Martindale compared Ravens veteran linebacker Josh Bynes to an NBA veteran for his calming presence on the defense. “He’s like our Udonis Haslem down in Miami; the guy that [president of the Miami Heat] Pat Riley has with him for years,” Martindale said. “He’s a Raven.”

>> Ravens center Bradley Bozeman returned to practice Thursday after injuring his back last week against the Chargers. Roman said if Bozeman can’t play Sunday, he’s confident in Trystan Colon to fill the void.

“We feel really good about Trystan, because he’s been in the program for a couple years,” Roman said. “He’s continuing to evolve and grow. So, I don’t expect much different with him in there. We’re pretty much a billboard for, ‘Next Man Up,’ and that’s how every player in that locker room has to feel.”

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