Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews was activated off injured reserve Friday, providing a major boost for quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens ahead of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.
“I’m excited,” Andrews said. “I love to play football. I love the Ravens. I love the city. I’m going to give them everything I’ve got.”
When Andrews injured his left ankle during a 34-29 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 16, the initial fear was that he would miss the rest of the season. But Andrews spent six hours a day rehabbing a cracked fibula and ligament damage at the Ravens’ Under Armour Performance Center and spent his nights in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to speed up his recovery.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said it took “an amazing amount of toughness” for Andrews to put himself in position to play 73 days after this significant injury.
“I mean the physical pain he went through … I saw him in the training room,” Harbaugh said. “[It’s a] very painful injury. Very painful rehab.”
Andrews felt like he had a chance of playing when he began practicing two weeks ago. He didn’t estimate how many snaps he would play against the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I’m feeling good,” Andrews said. “I’m going to help this team any way I can and whatever they ask me to do.”
Since Andrews and Jackson were drafted by Baltimore in 2018, Andrews has become Jackson’s favorite target. Andrews has totaled more receptions (287), receiving yards (3,739) and touchdown passes (33) from Jackson than any other player.
Even though Andrews missed the last six games of the regular season, he still leads Baltimore with six red zone touchdown catches. Jackson referred to Andrews earlier this week as his “bread and butter.”
“It means a lot to all of us,” Jackson said of the return of Andrews. “What it means to me is I got another security blanket.”
Andrews, 28, a three-time Pro Bowl player, was injured on the opening drive in Week 11 on a controversial hip-drop tackle by Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson. It was soon brought to his attention that former wide receiver Terrell Owens suffered a similar injury in 2005. With the help of a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, Owens returned in seven weeks to play in the Super Bowl.
Andrews borrowed a hyperbaric chamber from his girlfriend’s mother and moved it into his house. Now, he and Jackson are one win away from reaching their first Super Bowl.
“We came in the league in 2018 at the same time together,” Andrews said. “We’ve always talked about unfinished business. This is part of that business.”