OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has been sidelined for over a month with a sprained knee, but offensive coordinator Greg Roman isn’t counting him out for the postseason, which begins next week.
“He’s a special guy,” Roman said after Thursday’s practice. “I think if somebody’s got a chance to do it, he does.”
Jackson has not suited up since injuring his left knee on Dec. 4 and has missed 14 straight practices for the Ravens (10-6), who clinched a playoff berth two weeks ago. In four games without Jackson, Baltimore has struggled mightily, averaging 12.3 points per game and scoring an NFL-worst three touchdowns.
After Sunday night’s 16-13 loss to the Steelers, Jackson moved around better than he did the previous week but continued to have a hitch in his walk. Roman acknowledged that no one really knows how Jackson will look until he gets back on the practice field.
“I would say, I would bet on him. I would definitely bet on him,” Roman said. “It’s not an ideal situation, obviously, but it’s a great opportunity when he does come back to get him back in the lineup and get moving.”
The Ravens have never given a definitive timetable on Jackson’s return. Two weeks ago, when asked whether Jackson would return at some point this season, coach John Harbaugh replied, “Sure, of course.” On Wednesday, when asked whether he expected Jackson to be ready for the postseason, Harbaugh didn’t express the same confidence, saying, “I’m just probably going to leave all that stuff alone.”
Jackson isn’t the only Baltimore quarterback dealing with an injury. Tyler Huntley, who has gone 2-2 in Jackson’s absence this year, was limited for a second straight day in practice with injuries to his right shoulder and wrist. Huntley did not throw a pass during the media viewing portion of Thursday’s practice.
“Anytime your quarterback can’t practice, that’s a tough situation,” Roman said. “It is what it is. It’s the NFL in January. You got to adapt and overcome that. He’s working hard. He’s doing rehab like crazy. He’s been dealing with this thing for weeks and fighting through it. It’s changed maybe the way we have had to play these games a little bit. But we know, when he’s at full strength, he’s a dynamic player for us.”
If Jackson and Huntley can’t play, undrafted rookie Anthony Brown would start Sunday’s game at the Cincinnati Bengals.
It’s possible there won’t be much at stake for Baltimore’s regular-season finale.
If this past Monday night’s game between the Bengals and Bills — which was suspended after Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest — is not resumed, the Ravens would be mathematically eliminated from the AFC North title race. Under that scenario, Baltimore’s only motivation would be to move from a No. 6 seed to a No. 5 seed, which would require a win over Cincinnati and a loss by the Los Angeles Chargers, who play at Denver.
This would mark the first career start for Brown, who showed a lot of composure when he finished out Baltimore’s 16-14 win in Pittsburgh on Dec. 11.
“I have a lot of confidence in him,” Roman said. “I think he’s got a bright future. You never know until they get out there and do it the first time. But that’s OK. That’s part of the excitement.”