As the Ravens entered the start of their 20th training camp July 30, they were minus their two starting tight ends from last season, Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels. Pitta was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform List July 24, as he recovers from a second straight season-ending hip injury, while Daniels signed with the Denver Broncos as a free agent during the offseason.
The Ravens took notice of the void at tight end during the 2015 NFL Draft, selecting Maxx Williams out of Minnesota during the second round and Nick Boyle out of Delaware during the fifth round.
However, second-year tight end Crockett Gillmore has been running with the first-team offense during training camp after preparing for a starting role in the offseason. Gillmore worked with the team's offensive linemen to get a better break off the line and block down field, adding 20 pounds of muscle to help with that process. While he's fighting to start for the first time during his career, Gillmore is not worried about the guys behind him wanting the same thing.
Morgan Adsit: You see the writing on the wall before this season -- no Owen Daniels or Dennis Pitta. Did you go into the offseason determined to land a starting role?
Crockett Gillmore: It's not really an effect on me. I come into the season preparing to be the starter regardless of who's here. I went and worked on things that I needed to work on and really excel in the passing game and just be a better football player. That has really nothing to do with who's here and who's not.
MA: Did you work out with someone who has experience with offensive linemen? Is that what you were doing?
CG: That's correct. [I] really just understand my body, and I grew so fast that I never developed the strength to get in and out of breaks and things like that. So I developed that strength and was able to really move better.
MA: Did you put on weight, too? Adding muscle to get stronger out of blocks?
CG: Yeah, I've put on up to about 25 pounds, just depending on what kind of day it is. But, yeah, it feels great. I've developed a lot of lower body strength and really developing my kind of hips and knees and that same aspect. You have to be able to control that length, and I just grew real fast as a kid, so I never really developed.
MA: You embraced the whole blocking aspect last year to get you on the field, whether it was on special teams or on fourth-down situations. But you do have to get down field with your hands in this offense, and there are expectations for you. Is that something you've been working on during training camp, and are you enjoying seeing the reps?
CG: I've always been more of a receiver. I played receiver in high school, so I've been around there. It's being able to do it at this level, so really just getting those repetitions, and it's just something, like I said, that you come to expect, and you've got to be a more well-rounded player, I guess.
MA: What are you seeing that's different with Marc Trestman here and his offense than former offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak?
CG: He just brings an energy to the room. Obviously, he's been around the league for a while, and [he's] very precise. I think we're steps, miles ahead of where we were last year, in terms of just being comfortable with the offense, and maybe [it's] just me. I'm still kind of new to this, so I definitely feel like we've excelled a lot faster, and I think we're a lot more comfortable with what we're doing, and [the] sky's the limit.
CG: Yeah, that was kind of expected. I actually thought they might take three if there was another one available, but it worked out, and we got two kids that can run and do some things for us, and I'm really excited to work with them. They've done a great job so far, and I'm looking forward to the season.
MA: So you worked hard in the offseason, but what about your personal life, too? You made some buzz with your engagement. You kind of broke the news on Twitter, but can you take me through that, and were you really at a gun range?
CG: Yeah, we were at the gun range, and my dad had actually set up the target, so it was designed. The first one, you had to shoot out each target, and it takes about eight shots to take down a target, and she kind of ran through that. And the second target was set up so you shot what was number one, and then the whole thing fell. So she takes off shooting, and she shoots it a couple times, and she realizes it says something, and, of course, I'm on one knee next to her, and she kind of hesitated. She was like, 'I have a gun in my hand,' but it worked out. I didn't get shot, and she said yes.
For the complete interview, click here.