OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh declined to definitively name his starting quarterback for Sunday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers even though Lamar Jackson missed his 12th straight practice with a knee injury.
Asked if Tyler Huntley would start against the Steelers, Harbaugh said after Friday’s practice: “It’s probably a fair assumption. You can assume that.”
That assumption became true when the Ravens later ruled out Jackson for a fourth straight game.
Huntley has started all three games in Jackson’s absence and has kept Baltimore alive in the race for the AFC North title despite struggling to score points. The Ravens are 2-1 without Jackson, totaling three touchdowns in 15 quarters.
Jackson hasn’t suited up since injuring the knee at the end of the first quarter in a 10-9 win over the Denver Broncos on Dec. 4.
“It kills him,” Huntley said about how Jackson is handling not playing. “He wants to be playing. But at the same time, it’s just accepting the process and just focusing on getting himself healthy so he can be ready to play when it matters most.”
Jackson sprained a posterior cruciate ligament, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, which is an injury from which most players take one to three weeks to recover. When he was injured in Week 13, Harbaugh initially described Jackson as “week-to-week.”
“The way we feel, the sooner we can get him back, the better,” Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “Especially heading into the playoffs, [we’d] love to get some work in before then, but you can’t rush Mother Nature. We have to make sure he’s right at the same time.”
The Ravens (10-5) can clinch their first division title in three years if they win their final two games. Baltimore plays host to the Steelers on Sunday and finishes out the regular season at the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Steelers (7-8) have a 1.9% chance of reaching the postseason, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index. Pittsburgh can be eliminated from the playoff race before Sunday’s 8:20 pm ET kickoff if the Miami Dolphins win at New England on Sunday afternoon. If the Dolphins lose, the Steelers would get knocked out of postseason contention with a loss in Baltimore.