With the sun beaming on the Ravens’ training facility and the humidity through the roof, the team’s practice Wednesday was slow and uneventful.
Despite the 80-plus-degree heat affecting the team and the large crowd of fans in attendance in Owings Mills, tight end Mark Andrews seemed to be unbothered. Andrews caught passes from quarterback Lamar Jackson down the field and faked out safety DeShon Elliott to make a grab during one-on-one drills.
“He wants to work on his craft and get better,” Ravens tight ends coach Bobby Engram said. “Obviously, players that are proven, you give them a day off, but right now, he’s trying to really get himself ready for the season, and that’s what we work for.”
Andrews, 25, is coming off a 2020 season in which he ranked fourth among NFL tight ends in receiving yards with 701 to go along with seven touchdown catches. Even though Andrews has proven to be one of the best tight ends in the league, Engram said that the 2019 Pro Bowl selection is seeking ways to improve.
“[Andrews] attacks the playbook, and he’s really worked hard on being a better blocker,” Engram said. “He just wants to be a complete player, and he goes about his business every day like that.”
Tight end Josh Oliver, who was traded to the Ravens from the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason, has intrigued Engram with his size, speed and steady hands. Oliver has made some solid plays during training camp, including a leaping grab during the first day of practice. Oliver was the Jaguars’ 69th overall pick in the 2019 draft.
“He’s a guy that has a desire to be a really good football player,” Engram said. “We’re excited to have him, and we just want to keep growing him and keep bringing him along as a player.”
Oliver is in competition with Eric Tomlinson, Tony Poljan and Eli Wolf for the third tight end spot on the roster. “I think the intrasquad practices versus Carolina [next week], the preseason games, in particular for young guys, it’s important, because it does help separate the competition,” Engram said.
Diet change works for Averett
Cornerback Anthony Averett said his body is the best it has ever felt as he enters his fourth season with the Ravens. One of the reasons for the rejuvenated energy is that Averett spent the offseason changing his diet.
Averett, 26, said the time spent on changing his eating habits, strengthening his body and improving his conditioning has allowed to play with a ton of energy, even on hot days like Wednesday.
“Just coming out here and practicing in this heat, you’ve just got to eat well,” Averett said. “[Try] different diets, eat different, even hydrate — everything.”
Averett, who is in the final season of his four-year rookie deal after being drafted in the fourth round in 2018, feels more confident in himself after starting a career-high four games last season. Before last year, Averett started in three games during his first two seasons.
Averett, who played a total of 10 games, recorded 27 tackles and seven pass breakups during the 2020 season. He said he wants to continue to prove that he is a starting-caliber cornerback in the league.
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“Definitely, I want to be out there, and I definitely want to play, but I know the circumstances,” Averett said. “We have a deep secondary — I know that — but whenever I get my chance, I just ball. I just do my best.”