OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It’s been going so well for the Baltimore Ravens that even the bye week delivered a win — with the surprise return of Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews.
The Ravens designated Andrews to return off injured reserve Friday, which comes two months after he suffered a serious left ankle injury. He looked fine running routes and cutting during individual drills but did not participate in team drills.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh had repeatedly indicated that Andrews had a chance to come back for the playoffs. The Ravens (13-4), the No. 1 seed in the AFC, will host a divisional round game on Jan. 20 or 21.
“I think we’re on the same timetable that we were on,” Harbaugh said after Friday’s practice. “We’re in that range. We’ll get into next week, and we’ll have a better idea.”
Andrews, a three-time Pro Bowl tight end, injured his left ankle in the Ravens’ 34-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 16. On the opening drive, he was thrown to the ground with a controversial “hip drop” tackle by Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson.
After the game, Harbaugh thought Andrews was done for the season with a form of a high ankle sprain. A few days later, Harbaugh said there was an “outside chance” of Andrews returning.
Now, about a week before Baltimore’s first playoff game, Andrews was back on the field, which caught the attention of teammates.
“We know he wants to be out there with us every second he can,” Ravens fullback Patrick Ricard said. “He is looking really good, and he’s the guy that’s a big leader on this team, a great teammate, great brother. So for us to see him out there, it’s definitely boosted morale of like, ‘OK, we see you, Mark. Let’s get this thing going so we can have you back.'”
Andrews, who had surgery on his ankle, has been Lamar Jackson’s favorite target since they were both drafted by Baltimore in 2018. Before getting injured, Andrews led the Ravens with 54.4 yards receiving per game and six touchdown catches through the first 11 weeks.
Without Andrews, tight end Isaiah Likely has stepped up to become a playmaker. In his past five games, Likely has caught 17 passes for 282 yards and five touchdowns, which were tied for the most among NFL tight ends over that span.