BALTIMORE — Ravens tight end Mark Andrews will likely miss the remainder of the season after suffering an ankle injury in Thursday night’s 34-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, coach John Harbaugh said after the game.
“Unfortunately on the downside, Mark Andrews has a very serious ankle injury. It looks to be a season-ending injury. So our prayers will be with Mark,” Harbaugh said.
“No one cares more about the team and being there for the players than Mark Andrews, so it will be tough for him, but we will be there for him all the way.”
An MRI revealed that the Ravens’ star tight end suffered a fractured fibula and an ankle ligament injury, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports. They spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter. It is believed the injury will keep Andrews out for the rest of the season.
Andrews — Lamar Jackson’s favorite target — was injured after catching a pass on the Ravens’ opening drive. He was on the ground for a scary few minutes after Bengals kicker Logan Wilson landed on his leg while tackling him on the 4-yard line.
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Players from both teams signaled Baltimore’s coaches to be interested in him immediately. Jackson took off his helmet and threw it on the grass. Andrews was able to gingerly exit the field without assistance while the Baltimore fans gave him a standing ovation. The Ravens said Andrews’ return was in doubt, but he was ruled out shortly after.
The Prime Video broadcast reported that Andrews was using crutches and was unable to put any weight on his leg.
Since being selected by the Ravens in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Andrews has been selected to three Pro Bowls and has led the team in receiving yards in three seasons. He ranked second on the team in targets (59) and catches (43) entering Week 11 and was leading the team in receptions with six.
Jackson saw Andrews’ leg bend under the weight of Wilson’s tackle and realized it was a serious play. But he was hoping his colleague would brush this off as usual. Then he saw the confused and pained look on Andrews’ face.
“I thought, ‘Damn, that’s my son,'” Jackson said.
The quarterback described his relationship with Andrews using some sandwich metaphors: The couple is like bread and butter, peanut butter and jelly. There is a connection between him and Andrews that only comes from playing together for a long time.
“He received one sometimes,” Jackson said of Andrews.
Backup Mark Andrews at tight end
Isaiah Likely is set to take over for Andrews as the leading tight end. A fourth-round pick out of Coastal Carolina in 2022, he likely entered Thursday with nine catches for 89 yards on the season. Before Thursday, he participated in 27.2% of the team’s offensive attacks.
For blocking purposes, linebacker Patrick Ricard could be an asset in the Ravens’ rushing attack. Charlie Kolar is the third tight end on the list.
“It’s not just the next player at the position. It’s all of them,” Harbaugh said. “To replace a player like Mark Andrews, it will take everyone.”
Andrews’ loss will also be felt beyond the outcome. Harbaugh said he is an energy leader on the team and there will be a void in his absence.
“He is a fiery and passionate man,” the coach said.
Was Logan Wilson’s tackle sloppy?
Wilson, a 2020 third-round pick, was involved in three different plays that saw a Ravens linebacker get injured.
Later in the first quarter, Jackson came limping after being dragged down by Wilson near the Ravens sideline. He spent time in the sideline medical tent but did not miss a play. Then in the fourth, it was Wilson who chased down Odell Beckham Jr. after Beckham’s 51-yard catch; Beckham hit the ground hard and missed the rest of the game with a shoulder injury, an injury he did not consider very serious.
Harbaugh classified the tackle on Andrews as a “hip drop” tackle – when a defender’s hip drops onto a player’s lower leg in a compromising position.
“It’s a tough tackle. Is it necessary in this situation?” Harbaugh said. “(Jackson) on the sideline — there are always plays that send it to the league.”
For Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen, a defensive tackle, the situation is murkier.
“I hate for Mark to get hurt. Pray for him,” Quinn said. “At the end of the day, playing football or tackling, I don’t think tackling with a dropped hip is that bad.”
The Bengals declined to make Wilson available when contacted by a USA TODAY reporter.
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