Mark Andrews

Ravens Hope To Re-Up Mark Andrews

The Ravens aren’t just focused on a new deal for Lamar Jackson. The Ravens also hope to extend Mark Andrews‘ contract this offseason, GM Eric DeCosta says (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic). 

Mark Andrews, in my opinion, is one of the best TEs in the NFL. We’d be foolish to not try and keep him,” DeCosta said. “Those discussions will start up at some point.”

Andrews, 25, turned in a solid encore to his 2019 Pro Bowl season. In 2020, he reeled in 58 grabs for 701 yards and seven touchdowns. Over the course of three pro years, he’s got 156 catches, 2,105 yards, and 20 TDs to his credit. As one of the Ravens’ 2018 third-round picks, he’ll be extension eligible for the first time. The same goes for fellow ’18 third-rounder Orlando Brown, though DeCosta acknowledged that the tackle might not get a re-up due to their cap situation.

Morgan Cox, who has served as the Ravens’ long snapper for eleven years, will also be a victim of the numbers crunch. The four-time Pro Bowler tells Zrebiec that he will not be re-signed after his contract lapses in March.

Obviously, I’m certainly disappointed that I won’t be back with the Ravens next year,” Cox said. “I take a lot of pride in what we’ve accomplished there. All of that to say, rather than be frustrated or disappointed on this end, which would be easy to fall into, I’m really just thankful that it happened. I am sad that it’s over, but I’m also eternally happy that it happened.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

COVID-19 Latest: Bubble, Ravens, Vaccine

Despite skyrocketing COVID-19 numbers nationwide, the NFL’s stance remains that postseason games will occur at team venues. Although no final decision has surfaced, NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills and union president J.C. Tretter providing anti-bubble statements provides a good indication no one- or two-site postseason will commence. This pours cold water on an in-case-of-emergency bubble scenario the league was considering last month. But no real bubble momentum has emerged since the pandemic began.

There’s not magic about a bubble. In fact, there’s the same challenges within a bubble. Let’s be clear: COVID-19 does not fear a bubble,” Tretter said. “The vulnerability inside a bubble is the same, which is full compliance of protocol at all times. We believe that it’s all about compliance, and compliance with the things that we know avoid risk is important, whether you’re all together in an isolated environment, or whether you’re in your community.

It’s all about the daily measures that work — mask-wearing, avoidance of sick individuals, rapid reporting of symptoms, good hand hygiene, physical distance, avoiding those high-risk exposures. Those principles won’t change.”

The NBA’s Orlando bubble produced zero positive COVID tests for several weeks, however, and Major League Baseball’s multi-site bubble setup did not produce a positive case until the Justin Turner saga in Game 6 of the World Series. While the NFL has bulked up its coronavirus protocols as the season has progressed, the league going without a postseason bubble stands to bring greater chances star players miss playoff games — especially with the coronavirus environment having changed since the NBA and MLB postseasons.

Here is the latest from the virus front:

  • The Ravens are steadily seeing players return to work after testing positive for the virus. The team activated Mark Andrews and Matt Judon from its reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, putting both starters in line to face the Browns on Monday night. Both players missed two Baltimore games.
  • Ditto for James Conner. After missing the past two Steelers games, Conner is back on Pittsburgh’s active roster after his positive virus test.
  • The Panthers placed eight players on their virus list earlier this week but have since moved one of them back to their active roster. While it is unknown which members of that octet are COVID-positive, Greg Little is not. The Panthers removed the second-year tackle from their virus list Wednesday.
  • Chargers starting tackle Trey Pipkins is back on the virus list. The Bolts placed the second-year blocker on their list for the second time this season. Because he was identified as a close contact of then-COVID-positive center Ryan Groy, Pipkins landed on Los Angeles’ virus list for one day in late October.
  • The NFL is proceeding as if a vaccine will not be available to its players and staff this season. Although multiple vaccines are in the final stages, Sills and the NFLPA concur players should not be receiving vaccines at the same juncture that front-line workers or at-risk members of the population will, Twitter links via the Washington Post’s Mark Maske and SI.com’s Albert Breer. Vaccines, however, figure to have a massive impact on the 2021 season.

Ravens’ Mark Andrews Tests Positive For COVID-19

Ravens tight end Mark Andrews has tested positive for COVID-19, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Andrews, a Type 1 diabetic with elevated risk, has ben ruled out for Tuesday night’s game against the Steelers. 

Andrews is now the eleventh Ravens player to test positive for COVID-19 and the 20th player to hit the reserve list, which also includes players who have been exposed to the virus. In addition, ten Ravens staffers have tested positive, putting the team under a great deal of scrutiny. For now, the plan remains for the game to be played on Tuesday, according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Ravens intend to have their players return to the facility on Sunday night for conditioning, marking their first in-person gathering in days.

The league already postponed this game twice. A third postponement may lead the league to one of their two contingency plans — either rescheduling to “Week 18” or, if there are more cancelations, a historic 16-team playoff bracket.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: OBJ, Green, Andrews, Steelers

It’s been almost three years since Odell Beckham Jr. fractured his left ankle, and while the star wideout has yet to return to the Pro Bowl, he’s managed to put up back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. However, in an alternative universe, OBJ may have decided to hang up his cleats following that 2017 campaign.

Appearing alongside Cam Newton, Todd Gurley, and Victor Cruz on his YouTube series The Bigger Picture, Beckham admitted that he almost retired following the injury.

“I said this in college, I said, ‘I fear the day that they make this game a business and not what I love,’” Beckham said. “And when I seen that for the first time after breaking my ankle, like I thought about like not playing no more. Like this is not really it for me because they’ve ruined the game of football for me a little bit.”

OBJ didn’t elaborate on what the Giants did to upset him during that 2017 campaign, although it’s worth noting that the receiver had rushed back from a preseason ankle sprain. The veteran’s tenure with New York ended last offseason when he was traded to the Browns, and the 27-year-old proceeded to appear in all 16 games for the first time since 2016.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the AFC North…

  • When we learned yesterday that A.J. Green wasn’t going to sign an extension with the Bengals, it was made clear that he’ll willingly play the 2020 season under the franchise tag. Of course, that could be temporary lip service; since the wideout hasn’t signed the tender, he could skip training camp and preseason and still earn his full salary. However, as Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com notes, until Green officially signs the tender, the Bengals have the ability to rescind the franchise tag. This would save the organization almost $18MM, and while it’d be a somewhat unprecedented move, Florio notes that “in an unprecedented year, it’s impossible to rule anything out.”
  • The Steelers have made some changes to their coaching staff. As Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com passes along, Blaine Stewart is now the assistant wide receivers coach and Denzel Martin is now the assistant outside linebackers coach. The duo had previously served as coaching assistants. The organization also shook up their scouting department, promoting Chidi Iwuoma from BLESTO scout to a college scouting position and Dennis MacInnis from scouting intern to BLESTO scout.
  • While Ravens tight end Mark Andrews has Type 1 diabetes, he made it clear that he won’t be opting out of the 2020 season due to health concerns. “We’ve got a big year coming up,” Andrews said (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). “I want to be able to do a lot of things, and … just being able to help this team win is exciting for me.” The former third-rounder earned his first Pro Bowl nod last season after hauling in 64 receptions for 852 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Injury Updates: Thielen, Moreau, Andrews, Guice, Chark

Here are the latest injury updates from around the league as you enjoy Sunday Night Football:

  • Adam Thielen missed another game with his hamstring issue Sunday, but he should be back out there soon. “All parties are optimistic” that the Vikings will have their star receiver when they play a pivotal Week 15 game against the Chargers, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Thielen has only played eight games this season, and in two of those he played only a handful of snaps.
  • The Raiders have been pretty banged up recently, and they took another blow during their crucial loss to the Titans. Tight end Foster Moreau went down with a knee injury, and Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said after the game he could be done for the season. Moreau doesn’t play a huge role as a pass-catcher, but he has had a couple of big games and has been playing around half of the team’s offensive snaps.
  • Ravens fans were left holding their breath when breakout tight end Mark Andrews left their victory over the Bills and didn’t return, but fortunately it doesn’t appear to be anything too serious. Andrews suffered a contusion between his knee and thigh a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, and the “indication is it’s nothing major” (Twitter link). That’s good news, but Baltimore does have a short week with a Thursday Night Football game against the Jets waiting. It wouldn’t be surprising if Andrews misses that one, but it doesn’t sound like it’ll be a longterm absence.
  • Derrius Guice has had brutal injury luck so far in his young NFL career, so it was terrible to see the Redskins running back go down with another knee issue during their loss to the Packers. Fortunately it seems like he might’ve dodged a bullet, as Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets that the initial diagnosis is an MCL sprain. It seems like Guice could miss some time and potentially the rest of the season, but fortunately it doesn’t appear to be anything long-term. Guice missed his entire rookie season due to a torn ACL that resulted in multiple infections, and then missed the first eight games of this season with a knee injury.
  • The Jaguars have been getting embarrassed weekly recently, and now things are getting even worse. On the heels of their 45-10 blowout loss to the Chargers, it looks like they could be without top receiver D.J. Chark moving forward. Chark left the game with an ankle injury, and his “left foot was in a protective boot and he left the locker room using a scooter” after the game, tweets Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. Chark has been having a breakout year and has 881 yards with eight touchdowns, and it now seems like his sophomore campaign could be over.

We’ll have more on all the other big injuries suffered today as soon as there are additional details to pass along.

Draft Signings: Patriots, Ravens, Raiders

Here’s a look at today’s non-first round draft signings:

  • The Patriots signed second-round cornerback Duke Dawson. The Pats moved around quite a bit on draft weekend, including a trade up fro No. 63 to No. 56 to select Dawson. As shown on Roster Resource, the Florida product figures to be one of the team’s primary backups to starters Jonathan Jones and Stephon Gilmore, along with veteran Jason McCourty. Dawson’s deal is worth $4.7MM over four years, as dictated by his draft slot.
  • The Ravens signed third-round tackle Orlando Brown. Per the terms of his slot, Brown will receive a four-year, $3.491MM deal. Tight end Mark Andrews, who was Brown’s teammate at Oklahoma and also selected in the third round, has also inked his deal. As of this writing, the Ravens have just two unsigned picks in first round selections Hayden Hurst and Lamar Jackson.
  • The Raiders signed two draft picks today: Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (fifth round) and Oklahoma State wide receiver Marcell Ateman (seventh). Five of their nine picks now under contract, as shown on PFR’s tracker. From a talent perspective, Hurst was viewed as one of the top interior defensive linemen in the draft, but heart issues caused him to fall. The Michigan product will join fellow rookie Arden Key on the defensive line, giving the Raiders a double dose of young boom-or-bust talent.

Draft Notes: Nelson, Evans, Patriots

The 2018 draft class is considered to be one of the deepest in recent memory with respect to quarterback talent, and the quarterbacks are understandably dominating draft-related stories. But there are plenty of other collegiate players with the potential to dominate at the next level, so let’s round up a few non-QB draft notes:

  • Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com believes there is a “decent” chance that the Giants trade down from their No. 2 overall selection, and if they do, he believes Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson would be the target. Nelson is widely-regarded as the safest bet in the draft.
  • Because there is so much QB talent in the draft, as many as six signal-callers could be taken before New England’s No. 23 overall pick rolls around. As Mike Reiss of ESPN.com observes, that could allow the Patriots to land the type of player it rarely gets the chance to select, as they are typically picking at the end of the first round. Reiss suggests that Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans could be the team’s target, as he would provide much-needed speed at the LB position.
  • Alabama DT Da’Ron Payne, an excellent run-stuffer who has the skills to become a quality pass-rusher as well, will meet with the Bengals tomorrow, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter).
  • Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union thinks the Jaguars need another TE who can threaten the middle of the field to take attention off their outside receivers, and he believes Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews would be a good fit for Jacksonville’s No. 29 overall selection.
  • Florida DT Taven Bryan has been generating a lot of buzz lately, per Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, who tweets that the Gator could be a top-25 pick. Miller suggests the Falcons, who are working out another DT in N.C. State’s B.J. Hill, could be a fit.
  • Miller tweets that three offensive tackles are considered locks for Round 1: Texas’ Connor Williams, Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey, and UCLA’s Kolton Miller.
  • UCF’s Mike Hughes has a great deal of upside and is the No. 15 overall prospect in Daniel Jermiah’s most recent Top 50 rankings. However, Miller believes that, because of Hughes’ off-field concerns, he could be the fourth or fifth CB off the board (Twitter link).
  • There are four linebackers expected to be taken in the first round, per Miller (via Twitter): Evans, Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds, Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch, and Georgia’s Roquan Smith. Miller says Edmunds’ stock is rising rapidly and that he should be a top-10 selection.