It doesn’t get any better or bigger for the Baltimore Ravens. With Lamar Jackson in the spotlight against Patrick Mahomes and the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday’s AFC Championship game, a big offensive piece is set to return, and his name is Mark Andrews.
With all eyes on Jackson vs Mahomes, this may just turn out to be the battle of tight ends. You have Travis Kelce on one side and on the other is the Andrews, who has proven to be the second-best pass catching tight end threat in the AFC. After suffering an ankle injury in November, Lamar’s favorite target will officially be back, and the timing couldn’t come at a better time.
"I'm feeling good. I'm going to help this team any way I can," Andrews said, via the team’s official website. "Whatever they're asking me to do, I'm going to do."
Ravens now have a mighty 1-2 punch in Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely
In just 7 games in 2023, Andrews hauled in 45 receptions for 544 yards and six touchdowns. He was well on his way for an outstanding season prior to the injury. What was viewed as a massive loss at the time turned out to benefit the Ravens offense. Not only did receivers like Zay Flowers, Nelson Agholor, Rashod Bateman and Odell Beckham Jr. emerge, but also did the tight end Isaiah Likely which now gives the Ravens a 1-2 tight end punch that will be a challenge for the Chiefs.
"It's dangerous. Obviously, adding him and I to a tandem, doing our thing, it's going to be fun," Andrews said of Likely’s emergence. "I'm excited to see how it turns out."
While no one can expect Andrews to be full throttle right out the gate, his presence on the field just makes the Ravens more dynamic with a two tight end set that will put pressure on the Chiefs’ linebackers and the secondary. It’s pretty much pick your poison with Jackson’s ability to make big plays with his legs as well as his arms with all these weapons at his exposure.
The only downfall to Andrews’ return (if there will be one) could be Jackson and the offense putting too much focus on getting him involved in the offense. Where Andrews will be most impactful is the team spreading the ball around and allowing the game to come to him. Even if he is not 100 percent or just rusty for being out so long, he is still a player the Chiefs’ defense must account for.
Could he be used as a decoy? Anything is possible, but what makes Andrews a big X-factor is the fact the Ravens can be even more dynamic and creative in their offensive play calling.