Fourth-round picks typically don’t have the same expectations Isaiah Likely has had his first two seasons in the NFL. But fourth-rounders typically don’t have the same physicality and speed he possesses.
Likely was the talk of the Ravens’ offseason program in 2022 before showcasing his athleticism and speed during training camp. He went on to have a productive rookie season behind Pro Bowl starter Mark Andrews, catching seven passes for 77 yards and a touchdown in Week 8 at Tampa Bay and going off for eight catches and 103 yards in the playoff loss to the Bengals.
Likely finished with the third-most targets of any pass-catcher on Baltimore’s roster, putting up quality numbers (36 catches, 373 yards, 3 TDs) for a nonstarter.
The hype around him isn’t the same this summer, but that’s because much of the hype machine has focused on Baltimore’s new offense under coordinator Todd Monken and the addition of superstar Odell Beckham Jr. But Likely has been having another strong camp, and the Ravens want even more as he heads into his second year.
“High expectations for Isaiah Likely — nothing but the highest,” head coach John Harbaugh said after Saturday’s practice at M&T Bank Stadium. “He’s a talented guy, works super hard. [He] had his best day today. He just works to get better every day, so it should be a big year for him.”
Likely has strung together a good stretch of practices at camp during the first four days. Saturday, he connected with Tyler Huntley after getting behind linebacker Kristian Welch in a team period for a long connection. Friday, on a deep pass over the middle from Lamar Jackson, Likely tipped the ball to himself with his left hand before securing it while falling to the ground.
Although the Ravens are clearly set at the starting tight end spot with Andrews, Likely figures to be another valuable piece in Monken’s offense that specializes in playing to the strength of its players. If he improves in 2023, Likely could elevate the duo and make them the most lethal tight end combination in the league.
Here’s an overview of how Monday will go with a look at what we’re paying attention to:
The fifth day of full-squad training camp practice starts at 2:05 p.m. at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills. After practice, head coach John Harbaugh will speak with reporters, followed by select players.
ICYMI: STORIES LEADING UP TO DAY 5
WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR
Contact, and lots of it
It’s hard to buy stock in what we’ve seen in training camp because of the lack of contact on the field. Shorts and jerseys don’t tell a whole lot, especially for positions such as the offensive and defensive lines.
That changes today when the pads come on. We’ll get to see more physicality between the lines, plus linebackers and pass rushers attacking in open space. The energy ramps up, and as a result practice gets a lot more fun. Buckle up.
PUP list changes?
The Ravens haven’t made any changes to the physically-unable-to-perform list after the first four days of camp, but with a rest day Sunday, they could be coming.
Thus far, the group has remained the same: J.K. Dobbins, Rashod Bateman, Damarion “Pepe” Williams and Patrick Ricard. Harbaugh said after practice Saturday that Williams is probably the first guy to come off the list and there’s a chance he’ll return soon. Ricard had offseason hip surgery, so his return is probably the furthest out, but will Bateman or Dobbins follow Williams?
Although dropped passes have plagued some of the receivers fighting for 53-man roster spots, the projected starters have looked the part.
Rookie Zay Flowers, who is expected to return to practice Monday after missing the last two with an illness, led all receivers in catches and targets from Jackson on the first day. He’s looked explosive and sure-handed, and it’s clear the Ravens have big plans for him.
Beckham had one of his smoothest days of practice Saturday, beating Marlon Humphrey on a crossing route for roughly a 20-yard touchdown before it was wiped because of a holding penalty. He followed shortly after with a diving catch along the sideline just short of the end zone.
They’ve been a good group to follow, and we’ll see if anything changes from a production standpoint to start the new week.
FOLLOW ALONG FOR UPDATES TODAY
The Banner will have multiple reporters at each day of training camp practice. Follow along for updates from them. Also check out our Banner Sports X (what used to be Twitter) account, plus other Baltimore media members covering the Ravens, in our X list below: