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Shortly after Lamar Jackson‘s PCL sprain, a return after two missed games was rumored. John Harbaugh closed that door Thursday. Tyler Huntley will make a third consecutive start this week.
This will be Jackson’s eighth missed game in two seasons. The Ravens are 1-1 with Huntley at the controls this year, but they are coming off a listless performance — particularly in the passing game — and will also be without Devin Duvernay in Week 16. The third-year wide receiver suffered a season-ending foot injury in practice this week.
Ahead of the first game Jackson missed, a report indicated there was a “strong chance” he would not be fully healthy until the end of the regular season. This three-game absence matches Zach Wilson‘s miss count, but the Jets quarterback missed around a month before the regular season because of surgery. Jackson did not undergo surgery and obviously relies far more on his running ability compared to the Jets QB.
Last season, Jackson missed one game because of COVID-19 and four more because of a sprained ankle. While Huntley fared decently in the former MVP’s stead, the Ravens lost the five games Jackson did not finish to close out the season. This year, Jackson had the Ravens at 8-4 and atop the AFC North. Although the Ravens’ offense was scuffling a bit with Jackson before he went down, the contract-year performer ranks ninth in QBR. That is up from 17th last season.
Jackson, 25, passed on Ravens’ extension offers this year and appears poised to be cuffed with the franchise tag before the March deadline. The exclusive tag number is expected to check in north of $45M, giving the Ravens a historic cap hold on their payroll — unless they and Jackson can reach an extension agreement — entering free agency. Jackson has not exactly boosted his value this season, but his three Pro Bowls and historic run-game impact at his position will make a strong case. The Ravens have certainly missed him.
Baltimore closes the regular season with games against the Steelers and Bengals. The team is one game back of Cincinnati going into Week 16. The Ravens’ October win over the Bengals would allow for a winner-take-all season finale — should both teams hold serve, a task that might be more difficult for the Bengals considering the Bills will head to Ohio for a Monday-night showdown Jan. 2 — in two weeks. Having Jackson back in time for that game will be paramount for a Ravens team that now has running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards together. Jackson has not played with both those backs in a game since the 2020 season.