Ravens tight end Mark Andrews said he never considered opting out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19, despite the fact that he has Type 1 diabetes.
"Opting out never really crossed my mind," Andrews said Monday on a Zoom call with local media members. "Obviously, I think safety is the most important thing, and seeing what the (NFL Players Association) and the NFL have come up with in the system, it's extremely encouraging. For me, there was never, 'I'm going to opt out or I may not play.' I've always been very strong in my beliefs that one, I'm healthy. I keep my body healthy. And I'm going to do everything necessary to make sure I don't get COVID."
Andrews is one of just two known NFL players with Type 1 diabetes, a chronic health condition in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. While people with diabetes are not more likely to contract COVID-19 than the general population, research indicates that some could be more vulnerable to dangerous complications.
But Andrews, who led the team in catches, receiving yards and touchdown catches last season, doesn't see himself as more vulnerable than any other player.
"I'm a healthy person," he said. "I've worked really hard since a very young age to keep my body in the best shape, keeping tight control of my blood sugar. And at the end of the day, that's the most important thing. So I'm basically treating myself like a normal person. If I were to get it, if I were to have it, it would interact just like anybody else, because I treat myself like anybody else, and my numbers are great."
He praised the precautions the Ravens have taken to make their training facility in Owings Mills as safe as possible.
"The Ravens have done an incredible job of one, just enforcing all the protocols," he said. "They've gone up and beyond of all the expectations I had when I came here. Guys are wearing their face masks and guys are social distancing. We're staying six feet apart, so we're doing everything we can on our end to be safe and smart."
From a football standpoint, Andrews said he's ready to follow up on his first Pro Bowl season by becoming a better blocker. He wants to be ranked in the same class with tight ends such as George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers and Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs.
"There's a lot of room for me to improve," he said. "Looking back this offseason, I had a ton of time to think and watch film and really work on my body to try to get to that next level. I want to be the best tight end. I'm not there yet."
Andrews also offered praise for undrafted rookie Eli Wolf, who's competing for the third tight end job with recent addition Jerell Adams and Charles Scarff, who was on the team's practice squad last season.