Ravens counting on young tight end unit to step up


— The Baltimore Ravens lost one of their most influential players when Steve Smith Sr. ruptured his Achilles tendon against the San Diego Chargers. He accounted for a large part of their passing offense and set the tone for the whole team. The Ravens will have to make up for that production since Smith won’t be back for the rest of the season.

One unit that will be counted on down the stretch is the tight end group. They have a young group of players, including two rookies: Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams. Boyle has been impressive from the day he set foot onto the Ravens facility in Owings Mills. He has experienced an increased workload and made some key catches in the first half of the season.

Williams has been somewhat of a disappointment as a rookie. He was selected in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, but he lost snaps to a fourth round pick in Nick Boyle. Williams has been hampered by a knee and ankle injury. Marc Trestman and the Ravens offense have not been able to get the production out of Williams that many thought his potential suggested.

Crockett Gillmore has been involved a lot in the passing game. He had a pretty good game against the Oakland Raiders when he scored two touchdowns. That momentum carried over to the following week when he had 40 yards in the first half.

The Ravens plan to get more from Gillmore, Williams and Boyle when they return after the bye week. Trestman spoke about how things will need to change.

“We have some young, talented guys that we’re developing and working hard to get better. We certainly see moments of that showing up throughout the game,” Trestman said. “We want to do it in a more consistent level. We’re going to need the production at that position.”

Gillmore leads the tight ends with 20 receptions for 241 yards and three touchdowns. Williams and Boyle are yet to score a touchdown but have showed flashes during parts of their rookie season.

John Harbaugh said that the team expects the tight ends to make more plays. They have used plenty of 12 personnel sets with both tight ends in ace formations and at times having a tight end on the wing. All of the tight ends are capable of being flexed out wide also.

Help could be on the way for the Ravens if veteran tight end Dennis Pitta is cleared to return from injured reserve. He returned to practice recently and the organization is evaluating whether or not he is ready to resume game day action.

The first half of the season did not go anything like the Ravens expected. They enter the bye week with a 2-6 record. Pride is on the line as the Ravens will try to claw their way out of the AFC North Division cellar. Trestman’s offense has received production from the tight end in the past. The Ravens tight ends will need to increase their production if the team wants to win games in the second half of the season.