The Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson will still be without their favorite target for the foreseeable future, but “there’s an outside chance” All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews could return for the playoffs.
Head coach John Harbaugh teased the possibility of a quicker-than-expected comeback for Andrews when speaking to reporters on Monday, November 20. Harbaugh revealed the leg and ankle injury Andrews suffered against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11 “wasn’t as bas as initially feared,” per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic:
Andrews being good to go in time for the postseason would be more than a minor miracle. He was thought to have “suffered a cracked fibula and an ankle ligament injury,” according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, following an MRI conducted after the Ravens beat the Bengals 34-20 at M&T Bank Stadium.
Harbaugh had declared Andrews out for the season, but any glimmer of hope is worth holding onto. Despite the optimism, Rapoport’s colleague Mike Garafolo believes “it would have to be a deep playoff run by the #Ravens to open the door for Mark Andrews’ return. Knowing how competitive Andrews is, if there’s a opening for it to happen, he’ll do all he can to play.”
Andrews is a competitor, but the Ravens aren’t short of options if he can’t make it all the way back. The franchise has even signed a tight end who once suited up for AFC North rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Ravens Have Choices to Replace Mark Andrews
Harbaugh believes in the Ravens’ alternatives to Andrews, per Zrebiec: “We have to replace him together as a group. I really believe we can do it.”
The obvious choice is Isaiah Likely, a second-year “move” tight end with the potential to be a mismatch from anywhere on the field. Getting on the field has been Likely’s problem.
He’s appeared in just five games, but Likely did get 49 snaps after Andrews left the fray against the Bengals, according to Pro Football Focus’ Nathan Jahnke. Although he ran 29 routes, Likely was only targeted once and didn’t make a single catch.
Likely’s modest workload provides an opportunity for fellow tight end Charlie Kolar. Also selected in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL draft, Kolar was limited by a neck injury as a rookie.
When he did get onto the field, the 6-foot-6, 257-pounder made plays as a classic, in-line tight end. Like moving the sticks against the Bengals on his first career catch in Week 18 last season.
Having Kolar operate on the line of scrimmage, while Likely aligns in space, is how the Ravens replicate everything Andrews brings to the passing game.
It also wouldn’t hurt to have another option or two, something the Ravens have already acquired.
Ravens Sign Scotty Washington
Knowing it will take a village to replace Andrews, the Ravens opened their doors to Scotty Washington. He worked out for the team on Monday, before signing later in the day, per KPRC 2 Houston’s Aaron Wilson.
Although he’s spent time on three teams, including the Bengals, since entering the pros as an undrafted free agent in 2020, Washington has skills the Ravens could use. Skills like being able to line up in multiple spots and offer a size and speed mismatch.
The Ravens are doing all they can to offset being without Andrews. It’s understandable they’ve stocked up on reinforcements when “Jackson has targeted Andrews 432 times over his career, according to TruMedia, 176 times more than the next most targeted,” per The Baltimore Banner’s Jonas Shaffer.
At least Jackson has better talent at wide receiver now Odell Beckham Jr., Nelson Agholor and rookie Zay Flowers have bedded into coordinator Todd Monken’s offense. If Likely or Kolar steps up, Andrews won’t be as missed as much as he would have been in previous seasons.
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