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Why is Ravens’ standout TE out for playoff game? Latest on comeback try

As the Baltimore Ravens practiced during their postseason bye week, a reward for being the AFC’s No. 1 seed, a key offensive piece returned to the field: tight end Mark Andrews.

Andrews has not played since suffering an ankle injury that cost him the remainder of the regular season on Nov. 16. The Ravens won six in a row without him before dropping Week 18 to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Heading into the divisional-round matchup against the Houston Texans on Saturday (4:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN), Baltimore opened the door to regaining one of its top receiving targets back in the fold for quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Here’s what we know about Andrews’ recovery and status for the playoff matchup.

Will Mark Andrews play vs. Texans?

No.

NFL STATS CENTRAL: The latest NFL scores, schedules, odds, stats and more.

Andrews was listed as questionable on the injury report. He was a full participant in practice Wednesday and Thursday. But the Ravens did not activate him from injured reserve Friday.

‘Mark is still up in the air,’ Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said after Thursday’s practice.

Baltimore started the clock for Andrews’ comeback by designating him to return from injured reserve at last Friday’s practice. Players have three weeks to be activated from that date.

‘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 (play),’ Andrews said Wednesday. ‘If I feel like I’m close but not there, I’ll let these guys go and hopefully get there next weekend.

‘I’m starting to feel really good, being able to get after it, get in and out of routes. Feeling pretty natural with all that stuff.’

What was Mark Andrews’ injury?

Andrews suffered ligament damage to his right ankle when Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson tackled him during a ‘Thursday Night Football’ matchup. (Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow also suffered his season-ending wrist injury during the game.)

The Ravens knew it was severe immediately. Harbaugh said after the game that testing would likely confirm his fears that Andrews would miss the rest of the season.

Wilson’s tackle came under fire as an example of the ‘hip-drop’ tackle that some have called upon the league to ban. Months later, Andrews didn’t seem to have an issue with the play.

‘It kind of was just an unfortunate event,’ Andrews said. ‘I’m just going to let everybody else do their thing. If they want to ban the tackle, fine. I’m going to go hard no matter what. I don’t blame the guy. He was just playing hard.’

Mark Andrews’ recovery includes hyperbaric chamber

One key to his recovery, Andrews said, was the use of a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. His girlfriend’s family had one, he said, and they moved it into his house to aid in his recovery.

‘I think that’s been big for me – help speed up that process,’ Andrews said.

‘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.’

Mark Andrews stats for 2023 season

Prior to his injury, the 2021 All-Pro caught 45 passes for 544 yards with six touchdowns.

Who is Mark Andrews’ backup?

With Andrews out, the Ravens turned to a pair of second-year backups, Isaiah Likely and Charlie Kolar. Likely became the primary replacement and caught all five of his touchdowns over the final six games with Andrews sidelined. He had 322 receiving yards on 21 catches in that span.

Ravens CB Marlon Humphrey won’t play vs. Texans

The Ravens will definitely be without one key starter. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who suffered a calf injury against the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 31, did not practice all week and was declared out.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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