Isaiah Likely has earned a prominent role in the Ravens offense

Ravens, Isaiah Likely Mandatory Credit: Jessica Rapfogel-USA TODAY Sports
Ravens, Isaiah Likely Mandatory Credit: Jessica Rapfogel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Baltimore Ravens played the majority of Thursday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers without top targets Mark Andrews and Rashod Bateman.

Given the team’s over-reliance on both Andrews and Bateman this season, one would think the Ravens’ offense would struggle mightily with those two sidelined. And at times, it absolutely did.

But with Andrews sidelined, rookie tight end Isaiah Likely rose to the occasion and put together the best game of his young NFL career. The version of Likely that we saw Thursday night looked like the same player we saw in the preseason.

Only this time, Likely wasn’t putting up big numbers against backups. He did so against a pretty talented Buccaneers defense.

Likely was the star of the show on offense for the Ravens on Thursday night. He finished with a team-leading six catches for 77 yards and a touchdown.

Even with a healthy Andrews hopefully returning in time for next week’s game, the Ravens need to make sure that Likely retains a prominent role in this offense.

This Ravens offense needs Isaiah Likely to produce

The Ravens have struggled to find consistent playmakers on offense this season. Lamar Jackson will always prefer to target Andrews, but Baltimore hasn’t exactly had the luxury of a bevy of offensive weapons.

Aside from Andrews and Bateman, who else is there?

Devin Duvernay has had his moments this season, but it’s clear he’s a complementary piece at best. Demarcus Robinson came through clutch on Thursday, but he entered the game with just nine catches on the season. James Proche and Tylan Wallace aren’t going to get the job done.

This Ravens offense needs a third playmaker to go along with Andrews and Bateman and there’s no reason it can’t be Likely.

Likely proved this summer that he’s more than able to take on a prominent role in an offense. And with Andrews sidelined for over half of this week’s game, he proved that once again.

There’s no reason why the Ravens can’t have both Andrews and Likely on the field for more than 20 percent of snaps per game. Greg Roman’s job is to field an offense consisting of his team’s best players.

Demarcus Robinson doesn’t need to be playing 70 percent of snaps per game when the Ravens have Likely. It’s not as if he’s an ineffective blocker either.

In fact, Likely finished with a Pro Football Focus run-block grade north of 90.0 in Thursday night’s game. He was the team’s most dynamic receiver and a dominant force in the running game.

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It’s gotten to the point that the Ravens can’t keep Isaiah Likely off the field. Play your best players — Likely is one of the best players in this offense.