Ravens tight end Mark Andrews has done everything possible to come back as fast as possible from his major ankle injury – even moving a hyperbaric oxygen chamber into his house.
Now, as the days count down to the Ravens’ divisional playoff opener against the Houston Texans, Andrews keeps making positive strides.
On Tuesday, Head Coach John Harbaugh said Andrews took a “big step” in his recovery. One day later, Andrews was a full practice participant for the first time.
After practice, Andrews explained what’s it’s going to take for him to suit up Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium.
“It’s how I feel at the end of the day,” Andrews said. “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’m going to let these guys go and hopefully get there next weekend.”
A major part of the evaluation will be how Andrews’ body responds to the workload of the week. He still called himself day-to-day.
“Each day there’s a new challenge to be attacked. But I’m starting to feel really good,” Andrews said.
“I’m doing everything I can to get back and get ready. After I work hard like a day like this, it’s recovery, get the swelling down, and feel good for the next day, which I usually do.”
Speaking to reporters for the first time since his injury on Nov. 16 against the Bengals, Andrews shared details about his recovery and dished out thanks to Owner Steve Bisciotti for the travel assistance, the medical staff, teammates, and coaches who helped lift him along the way.
Andrews compared his injury to the cracked fibula Terrell Owens suffered in 2004. Owens played in the Super Bowl seven weeks later. Andrews returned to practice eight weeks after his injury and the game would be about nine weeks after.
Andrews said the Ravens had a clear plan for him when he first went down, specifically Head Certified Athletic Trainer Adrian Dixon, Assistant Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist Mike Thomas, and Strength & Conditioning Coordinator Scott Elliott.
“All I had to do is come here every day and work and get better and better,” Andrews said. “It’s gotten a lot better week by week. We’ve made a lot of progress.”
The most creative rehab solution is the hyperbaric oxygen chamber, which Owens also used. Andrews said he got one from his girlfriend’s family.
“I think that’s been big for me to help speed up that process,” Andrews said.
What’s also helped has been the team’s success even while Andrews has been sidelined. They rattled off six straight wins, starting with the victory against the Bengals the night Andrews went down via a hip-drop tackle from linebacker Logan Wilson.
Isaiah Likely has stepped up with five touchdowns over the past five games, emerging as a big-time playmaker in Baltimore’s offense heading into the playoffs.
Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken said it was too early to start talking about how he would balance having both players back in game action, but Andrews isn’t surprised by Likely’s emergence.
“It’s incredible. It’s tough to watch them sometimes, but just the way they’re playing, they’re fighting, they’re clicking on all cylinders,” Andrews 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 the first time Andrews has gone through a major injury, but he’s thankful to be able to get back just at the right time.
“It’s tough, but you get around this team and you get around these guys and everybody in this building has been extremely supportive,” Andrews said. “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, and help this team win a Super Bowl.”