Andrews could have “outside chance” to return to Ravens this season

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens aren’t ruling out the possibility of tight end Mark Andrews returning from his ankle injury before the end of the 2023 season, especially if they can make a deep run in the playoffs.

Just a few days after saying Andrews would likely miss the remainder of the season, head coach John Harbaugh told reporters the three-time Pro Bowl selection’s left ankle injury “wasn’t as bad as initially feared right after the game.” According to NFL Network, Andrews sustained a cracked fibula and a ligament injury upon being tackled by Cincinnati linebacker Logan Wilson on the opening drive of Thursday’s 34-20 win over the Bengals.

Harbaugh confirmed Andrews will meet with Dr. Robert Anderson, a renowned foot specialist, in Charlotte, North Carolina this week.

“We’ll know more, but there might be an outside chance he could get back at some point in time,” said Harbaugh, who didn’t want to speculate about any potential timeframe for a return. “We’ll just have to see how that goes though. I don’t want to say that’s definitive by any stretch, but there is some optimism.”

The regular season concludes on Jan. 7 with the first round of the playoffs beginning the following weekend.

With Andrews sidelined indefinitely, Baltimore is expected to lean more heavily on second-year tight ends Isaiah Likely and Charlie Kolar, who have combined for 10 catches for 102 yards on 14 targets this season. The Ravens could also elevate practice-squad tight end Travis Vokolek, whose development was described by Harbaugh as “all arrows are pointing up” after the undrafted rookie had a solid preseason.

Replacing Andrews won’t be easy since he’s been Lamar Jackson’s top pass-catching target from the moment the superstar quarterback became the starter midway through the 2018 season, but improved depth at wide receiver should also help ease the blow.

“I do believe, more than we have been in recent memory, we’re probably more prepared to deal with something like this than we have been,” Harbaugh said. “We have a lot of guys that can step up and make plays — wide receivers, tight ends, running backs. I feel really good about the guys that are going to — all together — fill in for Mark Andrews.

“Mark is such a competitor, such a talent. He’s a superstar player. It’s impossible to replace him per se. We have to replace him together as a group, and I really believe we can do it. And then when he gets back, we’ll just be that much stronger for it — whenever that is.”

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