Benjamin Watson came to the Baltimore Ravens because he saw an opportunity to be a part of something special. Watson is well aware of how the team has featured the tight ends so many times in the past.
“I’ve seen the guys on this team before when I wasn’t here,” Watson said at a press conference after a practice last week. “I’ve always known that the Ravens had great tight ends on down the line from the oldest to the youngest. It’s an honor for me to be a part of that group. Hopefully, we push each other; we make each other better. I think that that’s how you become better as a player when you always have people you can compete with.”
Watson has been working to learn the terminology of Marc Trestman’s offense. He plans to continue to get familiar with how the plays are called in the huddle during training camp next month.
Hearing the play and then processing what he has to do is only the first part of carrying out his role properly. Watson will also need to work on his timing with a new quarterback group.
Joe Flacco is recovering from knee surgery and hopes to be back by training camp. Ryan Mallett took the first-team reps during minicamp. When healthy, Flacco is the obvious starter. Having suffered a knee injury in the past, Watson knows what Flacco is going through.
“I’m looking forward to him coming out there on the practice field,” Watson said. “I’ve been through an ACL [repair] before, so I know what it’s like. I know you have this itch, this desire to get out there, but you’re just not quite ready. I can relate to him on that level.
“Just watching him knowing that he has control of the offense and that he’s one of the great quarterbacks in the league is exciting for me whenever he does get out there.”
Flacco has always shown a preference for throwing to his tight ends. He trusts them to get open and come through for him, especially in third down situations. Watson plans to show Flacco that he can be a reliable target.
“I’m focused on the day to day,” Watson said. “then once training camp gets here and once Joe gets out here, then I’m going to try to earn his confidence, obviously, because he’ll be the starting quarterback.”
The Ravens have a solid group of tight ends that will be bolstered by the addition of Watson. Crockett Gilmore figures to be the starter while second-year player Maxx Williams continues to develop into the receiving option the Ravens hope he can become.
Watson gives them a veteran presence in their tight end group. Gilmore is only entering his third NFL season but has already made an impression on Watson.
“He is a great player and he has a great football mind,” Watson said. “I’ve already noticed about him that he’s going to be a coach when he gets done, because of the way he evaluates players and the way he’ll tell us, ‘You need to do this, do that.’ He has that type of mind.”
The Ravens have a knack for adding veteran players to bolster their locker room. Watson will be the latest. He was recognized as one of three finalists (Eli Manning and Anquan Boldin) for the Walter Payton Man-of-the-Year award, which was won by Boldin.
He is also coming off one of his best seasons after posting 74 receptions for 825 yards and six touchdowns with the New Orleans Saints last year. Watson plans on finding the same success with Baltimore in 2016.