Ravens tight end Mark Andrews said he’s still facing a “day-by-day” decision as he prepares for a potential return from ankle surgery in Saturday’s divisional round playoff matchup with the visiting Houston Texans.
“It feels incredible. It’s a blessing,” Andrews, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, said Wednesday in his first public remarks since the injury that seemed to end his season.
Andrews hobbled off after Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson tackled him around the legs early in the Ravens’ Nov. 16 win at M&T Bank Stadium. Though coach John Harbaugh immediately said Andrews’ ankle injury was serious, he left open the possibility for a postseason return after the tight end visited surgeon Robert Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“We ended up talking with the doctors and going through the surgery, and the surgery went incredibly well,” Andrews said. “You just never know. It’s day-by-day, week-by-week. I made a lot of progress every week. It was big, big jumps. I’m feeling good with where I’m at right now. It’s still day-by-day, like everyone is saying. But it’s very promising where I’m at.”
He was listed as a full participant on Wednesday’s injury report after returning to practice last week.
Andrews credited the Ravens’ detailed rehabilitation plan and added that his girlfriend’s family chipped in by lending him a hyperbaric oxygen chamber for recovery. He still had to work to reduce the swelling in his ankle after each hard practice.
He said it was both uplifting and difficult to watch the Ravens (13-4) play some of their best games and clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs without him. His backup, Isaiah Likely, caught five touchdown passes in six games in his absence.
“You see it game-by-game, him getting better and better and making big-time plays,” said Andrews, who led the team in catches and receiving yards in each of the previous four seasons after being drafted in 2018. “That’s a credit to how hard he’s worked. It’s been awesome to see him do that. We’re thankful to have him.”
Wilson’s hip-drop tackle on Andrews reinvigorated debate over a possible rule change prohibiting the practice, but Andrews had no interest in fueling that discussion.
“It’s just 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. I don’t blame the guy. He’s just playing ball.”
Asked what factors will determine his game status Saturday, Andrews said: “I think it’s how I feel at the end of the day. 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’ll go. If I feel like I’m close but not there, I’ll let these guys go and hopefully get that next weekend.”