Crockett Gillmore has answered the challenge this preseason. He has earned the right to be the Ravens’ starting tight end Week 1 in Denver. More importantly, Gillmore looks capable of being a pass-catching target for Joe Flacco, a quarterback who loves throwing to tight ends.
Gillmore made an eye-opening play Saturday night during a 31-13 loss to the Redskins. Running a seam route, he caught a pass at about the 15-yard line, but Gillmore wasn’t done. He broke one tackle after making the catch, barreled toward the goal line, and dove into the end zone from around the two-yard line, even though Redskins’ linebacker Keenan Robinson was draped around Gillmore’s legs.
The play showed Gillmore’s strength and athleticism, even though the 33-yard touchdown play was nullified due to a penalty on Marlon Brown. Gillmore is a load to bring down as at 6-foot-6, 270 pounds, and he has improved as a route runner.
“He’s a guy that I have had a lot of faith in all the way through, as a blocker and a pass receiver,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. “People want to label him a blocker; he’s a very good blocker, but he has a chance as a pass receiver too. And, it was nice to see that play.”
It’s not like other tight ends won’t play. The Ravens drafted two tight ends, Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle, knowing that the future of Dennis Pitta (PUP list) was in doubt due to his severe hip injury. Williams has also caught the ball well during preseason, but he didn’t play Saturday night (undisclosed injury). Gillmore is a much better blocker Williams, and Boyle is more blocker than pass-catcher at this stage.
That leaves Gillmore as clearly the No. 1 tight end right now, and that’s fine with Flacco. He was also impressed with the touchdown play that was called back.
“That just gives you a little bit of an insight as to what he’s capable of doing,” Flacco said.
Gillmore is quietly confident, and had a funny line about the trash talking during Saturday night’s game.
“He may have been talking, but I don’t pay any attention to that,” Gillmore said about one Redskins’ player. “It’s like a mosquito, they just keep flying around, and you just keep smacking them.’
Asked if he was ready to be the starting tight end Week 1, Gillmore said, “I felt ready from the beginning, from the moment I started training.”
Gillmore looks ready. And that’s a good sign for the Ravens.