OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Mark Andrews may not yet know whether he’ll play in Saturday’s divisional-round tilt with Houston, but the Ravens tight end even being in this position is the result of two months of strenuous rehabilitation.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since mid-November on Wednesday, Andrews said there are numerous people to thank as he works his way back from a significant left ankle injury that required surgery in November, but “big, big jumps” in progress and even the use of a hyperbaric chamber — compliments of his girlfriend’s family — have helped position him to return for what Baltimore hopes will be a Super Bowl run. Managing the swelling of his ankle remains a daily challenge, but the three-time Pro Bowl selection says he’s feeling “very positive” about his progress and “usually” bouncing back the way he needs to.
“I think it’s how I feel at the end of the day,” said Andrews about his chances of playing against the Texans. “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’m going to go. If I feel like I’m close but not there, I’ll let these guys go and hopefully get there next weekend.”
Andrews last played on Nov. 16 and was upgraded to full practice participation less than a week after being designated to return from injured reserve. The Ravens would need to activate him by Friday afternoon for Andrews to suit up against the Texans, but the thought of reinserting his pass-catching ability in a Baltimore offense that averaged 33.8 points per game from Weeks 12-17 has to be frightening for Houston and every remaining team in the postseason field.
That understudy Isaiah Likely and the Ravens fared so well even without Andrews helped ease his disappointment following the injury.
“It’s incredible. It’s tough to watch them sometimes, but just the way that they’re playing, they’re fighting, they’re clicking on all cylinders just carrying that to the playoffs,” said Andrews, who still led the Ravens in touchdown receptions despite playing in just 10 games. “We’ve got a lot of playmakers that are playing very good ball right now and a coaching staff that supports them. That’s what it’s about. It’s a team game, a team effort. That’s what we’ve got — a great team.”
Andrews wasn’t the only notable player to practice fully as wide receiver Zay Flowers (calf) and outside linebacker Odafe Oweh (ankle) were both upgraded from limited participation on Tuesday. However, three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey remained sidelined with a calf injury sustained in the Dec. 31 win over Miami and is running out of time to be ready to go for the divisional round. Veteran Ronald Darby would likely start in Humphrey’s place opposite Brandon Stephens.
Two-time Pro Bowl return specialist Devin Duvernay also practiced fully Wednesday and “looks like he’s ready to go,” according to special teams coordinator Chris Horton. Duvernay has been on IR with a back injury since mid-December, but his return coincides with the absence of wide receiver and backup punt returner Tylan Wallace, who hasn’t practiced since hurting his knee last week. Horton confirmed Duvernay would reclaim his return duties upon being activated.
“We have guys that we can throw back there. If the weather’s bad [and] there’s an opportunity, you possibly could see two guys back there,” Horton said. “Just given those responsibilities and given those options that we do have, I think it’s good for us to put our Pro Bowl player back there.”
On Wednesday, Baltimore waived veteran running back Melvin Gordon, opening a third spot on the current 53-man roster. In addition to Andrews and Duvernay, defensive back Ar’Darius Washington was also designated for return from IR earlier this month. Four-time Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook remains on the practice squad and appears more likely to be elevated for Saturday’s game behind running backs Gus Edwards and Justice Hill.
Houston remains banged up at defensive end with both Will Anderson (ankle) and Jonathan Greenard (ankle) sitting out Wednesday’s practice after being limited participants the day before. Veteran defensive end Jerry Hughes also remained sidelined and appears in danger of missing a second straight game.
Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: OLB Jadeveon Clowney (illness), CB Marlon Humphrey (calf), ILB Del’Shawn Phillips (shoulder), WR Tylan Wallace (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: TE Mark Andrews (ankle), WR Devin Duvernay (back), WR Zay Flowers (calf), LB Malik Harrison (groin), OLB Odafe Oweh (ankle)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DE Will Anderson (ankle), FB Andrew Beck (back), DE Jonathan Greenard (ankle), DE Jerry Hughes (ankle), DT Sheldon Rankins (ribs/shoulder)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Kris Boyd (hamstring), LB Blake Cashman (knee), DT Maliek Collins (hip), LB Christian Harris (calf), WR John Metchie (foot), LB Denzel Perryman (ribs), WR Robert Woods (hip)
FULL PARTICIPATION: G Dieter Eiselen (illness)