BALTIMORE -- In a surprising development for Ravens fans and the NFL community, Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews will be absent from the field for the season opener against the Houston Texans. This marks only the second time in Andrews' impressive six-year NFL journey that he will be sidelined due to an injury.
The decision comes after a week where Andrews was restricted in practice sessions. Despite hopeful indicators that suggested he might play, the Baltimore Ravens have confirmed that a quad injury will keep their star player out of Sunday's crucial matchup.
This recent setback echoes memories of Week 9 from last season, where Andrews was notably absent during Baltimore's victory over New Orleans due to shoulder and knee injuries.
Isaiah Likely Steps Up
In the absence of Andrews, the spotlight shifts to Isaiah Likely, a promising talent who was drafted in the fourth round just last year.
Likely, during Andrews' limited absences in the previous season, demonstrated his potential by racking up nine catches, which translated to 127 yards and a touchdown. Optimistic fans might perceive Andrews' omission this week as a strategic move, enhancing his chances of being in peak condition for the upcoming duel with the Cincinnati Bengals, the dominant force in the AFC North for two consecutive years.
The chemistry between Andrews and quarterback Lamar Jackson, ever since their simultaneous draft to the Ravens in 2018, has been evident. Together, they've combined for an impressive 3,195 yards and 27 touchdowns. However, last month's quad injury that led Andrews to miss six practices is a concern.
Despite returning to the field earlier this week, his inability to complete the sessions raised eyebrows. When probed about his readiness to face the Texans, Andrews labeled his injury as "tricky" and expressed his desire to play, if fate allowed.
It's worth noting that Andrews had only previously been sidelined for rest in 2019 ahead of the playoffs, and twice in 2020 after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. In a related twist, Andrews isn't the only elite tight end missing Week 1 action.
Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs is also on the injury list with a knee issue. As the season begins, these absences remind us of the unpredictable nature of the NFL.