Kansas City Chiefs

Players to watch in Chiefs-Ravens: Tight ends and defenders who prevent big plays

The quarterback matchup between Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson makes the the Chiefs-Ravens game the NFL’s marquee matchup this weekend. But keep your eyes on other playmakers, too, like both teams’ tight ends.

Travis Kelce, Chiefs, TE

Kelce is a standing member in this category, which speaks to his importance. He’s off to a good start and got into the end zone for the first time last week. His 19.5-yards-per-reception average is the NFL’s best among tight ends with at least 10 catches.

Frank Clark, Chiefs, DE

Containing a mobile quarterback like Lamar Jackson takes a full defensive effort, and the ends will play a vital role. Clark, Alex Okafor, Emmanual Ogbah and Tanoh Kpassagnon will bracket the ends and attempt to keep Jackson from getting outside. Clark said earlier this week that sacks tend to come in bunches. He’s looking for his first one this season. He didn’t go more than two games without a sack last season with the Seahawks.

Mark Andrews, Ravens, TE

Andrews as a touchdown in each of his first two games and leads the Ravens with 16 receptions. The second-year pro from Oklahoma has been on the injury list this week (foot) but is expected to play. Andrews said he admires Kelce’s approach to the game. “He has a lot of confidence,” Andrews said. “He has a lot of swagger to his game. It’s fun to watch a guy like that. I think there are certain aspects of that, what he brings to his team and his confidence and swagger — I bring some of that as well.”

Earl Thomas, Ravens, S

The Ravens have heard all week about Mahomes’ 41-yard connection to Hill on fourth down that helped the Chiefs win last season. And Thomas has heard enough. “Luckily the Ravens have me playing free safety, controlling the deep end,” Thomas said. “I plan on eliminating all the big plays.” If he’s right, Baltimore will have a big advantage. Mahomes leads the NFL with seven completions of at least 70 yards.

Don't have a KC Star subscription? Help support our sports coverage

If you already subscribe to The Star, thanks for your support. If not, our digital sports-only subscription is just $30 per year. It's your ticket to everything sports in Kansas City ... and beyond, and supports our award-winning coverage.
Related stories from Wichita Eagle