Ravens tight end Mark Andrews, two months after suffering what was feared to be a season-ending injury, left open the possibility Wednesday that he could return for Saturday’s divisional-round playoff game against the Houston Texans.
Andrews, who underwent ankle surgery after leaving a mid-November win over the Cincinnati Bengals and returned to practice Friday, said he’s “feeling good at where I’m at right now” but acknowledged his recovery is “still day by day.” In his first comments to reporters since the injury, he indicated his availability for the Ravens’ playoff opener could be a game-time decision.
“I think it’s how I feel at the end of the day,” he said. “Just knowing how good this team is, how good our players are, how good our tight ends are, if I feel like I’m going to be helpful to the team, I’m going to go. If I feel like I’m close but not there, I’ll let these guys go and hopefully get back next weekend.”
He was listed as a full participant in Wednesday’s practice.
Andrews, who finished third on the team in receiving yards (544) and first in receiving touchdowns (six) despite playing just 10 games, said he’s “starting to feel really good,” notably with his ability to get in and out of routes. Each week, he said, he’s made “big jumps” in his recovery.
“It’s been a test, that’s for sure,” said Andrews, who credited the Ravens’ coaching and medical staff, as well as owner Steve Bisciotti, for their help in his comeback. “This is the first time I’ve ever been through anything like this. It’s tough, but you get around this team and you get around the guys, and everybody in this building has been extremely supportive, and I can’t tell you how much that means to me, how much it matters. It makes me want to come in here, work every day, come back to this team and help this team win a Super Bowl. That’s what matters.”
Andrews, who was hurt on a hip-drop tackle, a controversial technique that the NFL could address this offseason, declined to comment on whether it should be banned. He also said he didn’t blame Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson, who tackled him, for the injury, saying he was “just playing ball.”
“It was kind of an unfortunate event,” he said. “I’m going to let everybody else do their thing. If they want to ban the tackle, fine. But I’m going to go out there and play hard no matter what.”
Andrew said his surgery went “incredibly well.”
During rehab, he made use of a hyperbaric oxygen chamber owned by his girlfriend’s family to help him in his therapy.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, hyperbaric oxygen therapy allows patients to breathe pure oxygen 1.5 to 3 times higher than the average pressure. The increased oxygen supply in the blood can help damaged tissue heal.
“The big thing is just coming in here every day and working,” Andrews said. “To be able to push yourself, but not push yourself too hard, and teetering that line of getting better but not hurting yourself is something I’ve done. I talked about the hyperbaric oxygen chamber. I think that’s been big for me [to] help speed up that process and everything in the training room.”
Watching his team succeed without him was bittersweet for Andrews. He wished he was playing, but he said the Ravens were “incredible” to watch. He’s especially enjoyed seeing backup tight end Isaiah Likely get the chance to “shine.”
“They’re fighting, clicking on all cylinders and just carrying that into the playoffs,” he said. “We have a lot of playmakers that are playing really good ball right now and a coaching staff that supports them. That’s what it’s about. It’s a team game, team effort, and that’s what we’ve got: a great team.”
Baltimore Banner reporter Giana Han contributed to this report