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Ravens TE Mark Andrews expected to return for AFC championship game

BALTIMORE — Mark Andrews is back.

The Ravens activated the 2021 All-Pro tight end from injured reserve Friday, two days ahead of Sunday’s AFC championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs at M&T Bank Stadium. Coach John Harbaugh said that, barring a setback, he expects him to play.

“To add a player like Mark is a great add for us, it’s a great advantage,” Harbaugh said. “We’re excited about it. Mark’s been looking good the last couple weeks. He’s merged into the game plan as we built it this week and that’s what we’ll be running with on Sunday.”

A favorite target of quarterback Lamar Jackson since being drafted together in 2018, Andrews has been sidelined since injuring his left ankle Nov. 16 against the Cincinnati Bengals and undergoing surgery shortly thereafter.

“I’m feeling good,” Andrews said Friday. “I’m going to help this team any way I can. Whatever they’re asking me to do, I’m going to do.”

How much he plays remains to be seen. But before going down, the 28-year-old three-time Pro Bowl selection had 45 catches for 544 yards and a team-high six touchdown receptions.

Andrews also fully practiced this week and last, though he did not play in the Ravens’ divisional round win over the Houston Texans, giving his ankle another week to heal.

“It means a lot to all of us,” Jackson said of Andrews’ return. “What it means to me is I got another security blanket.”

In Andrews’ absence, second-year tight end Isiah Likely has filled in nicely, with 23 catches for 356 yards and six touchdowns in six games.

But the return of Baltimore’s leading receiver each of the past four seasons could be a boost against a Chiefs defense that ranks as one of the best in the NFL. Kansas City was fourth in the league in the regular season in passing yards allowed per game (177.6), second in yards allowed per pass (5.3) and fifth in completion percentage allowed (.609).

Sunday will also mark the first conference championship game in Baltimore since 1971 when the Colts defeated the Oakland Raiders, and the first AFC championship game of Andrews’ career.

“I’m excited,” Andrews said. “I can’t tell you how excited. This is what I love to do. I love to play football. I love the Ravens. I love this city. I’m going to give them everything I got.”

The Ravens also enter the game remarkably healthy, with all 53 players on their active roster practicing Friday.

That included cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who has been out since suffering a calf injury against the Miami Dolphins in Week 17. He said earlier this week that his calf “feels good,” and Harbaugh said Friday that he is “confident” Humphrey would be able to play.