After spending the earlier part of the week training at the Under Armour Performance Center, the Baltimore Ravens organized a practice inside M&T Bank Stadium for the first time on Saturday with nearly 20,000 souls in attendance.
With the offense and the defense splitting the first few days in terms of who performed to better levels of play, Saturday featured a contested battle between both the offensive and the defensive lines of the Ravens' flock.
On top of that, another position was heavily featured mostly thanks to Baltimore's quarterbacks' steady looks toward the players manning it: the tight end crops.
Reporting from M&T Bank Stadium, Nikhil Mehta of Russell Street Report noted that "Jackson’s no. 1 target is still Mark Andrews," and that "every time it felt like Jackson needed a completion he went to his All-Pro tight end."
That's hardly surprising, obviously, considering Andrews has turned into a top-3, perhaps the second-best tight end in the NFL entering 2023. More interesting, though, is the surge of second-year Isaiah Likely.
In a report written for The Athletic, Jeff Zrebiec touched on the sophomore and how he's been putting on consistent work and producing nicely for the first few days of training camp.
The beat reporter quoted coach John Harbaugh saying there are "high expectations--nothing but the highest" for Likely ahead of next season.
Kyle Phoenix Barber of Baltimore Beatdown also reported similar feelings from the stadium, saying that "Harbaugh was complimentary about Likely" in the absence of WR Rashod Bateman and RB J.K. Dobbins.
The tight end, drafted by the Ravens in the fourth round of the 2022 draft, is coming off a rookie year in which he appeared in 16 games catching 36 passes for 373 yards and scoring three touchdowns. He did most of his damage in the matchups in which Mark Andrews wasn't available.
Likely himself pointed out following Saturday's practice that Monken "used a two tight-end offense" at Georgia, and he acknowledged that while the Ravens "have great receivers," they still have Mark and me and Charlie (Kolar) in the offense."
The young tight end thinks that having so many offensive weapons "that can hurt a defense" can "really do wonders” for the Baltimore offense next year.
Likely seems to be comfortable with the larger workload he already received at some points last season, and also the reps he's getting early in training camp. "As you start playing more and you start running with the offense, you start seeing that you’re here for a reason," the tight end told the media as quoted by Zrebiec.
"I feel like that’s something I noticed in the offseason. I’m here and I’m showing that I belong,” Likely finished.