Harbaugh updated Jackson’s status during a press conference on December 15, telling media that Jackson did not practice with the team but he could still start against the Green Bay Packers on December 19.
It’s the second time the Ravens have projected confidence about Jackson’s availability for their Week 15 matchup with the Packers, with Harbaugh telling reporters on December 13 that he expected Jackson to play.
But the Ravens also “poached” veteran quarterback Josh Johnson from the New York Jets’ practice squad on the same day, indicating that they’re preparing for Jackson’s absence vs. Green Bay.
Harbaugh downplayed the signing as an “insurance policy” for Jackson, referring to increased COVID cases around the NFL and his own history with Johnson.
“He’s played in this league for a long time, and he’s very reliable,” said Harbaugh, “It was great having him here in 2016. He’s one of the best guys to be around and you want to be around.”
But given the timing of Johnson’s arrival, Harbaugh did acknowledge “the potential to need him this week,” concluding, “it just makes sense to bring him in.”
Harbaugh also strongly resisted any notion of the Ravens resting Jackson against the Packers to make sure he’s ready for a crucial AFC North matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals on December 26.
“I would say it factors in zero percent, because we’re trying to win this game,” said Harbaugh, “You want to try to get every win you can right now.”
Huntley Taking First-Team Reps
But if Jackson can’t play, the Ravens may have to rely on backup quarterback Tyler Huntley for the third time this season. He started against the Chicago Bears on November 21 in Jackson’s absence and took over at quarterback against the Browns as well.
With Jackson out, Huntley practiced with the first-team offense on December 15 in preparation to potentially make his second career start against the Packers, per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.
“Him getting the reps today, if he has to play on Sunday, will be a benefit,” said Harbaugh.
Huntley has been repeatedly lauded for his poise by teammates this season after twice stepping in for one of the most dynamic players in the league on short notice.
Veteran linebacker Justin Houston praised Huntley’s “composure” on December 15, telling reporters, “When his number has been called, he goes out there and he’s ready to go.”
“You don’t see any nervousness about him,” Houston continued, “He’s showed that he can be a starter in this game,” indicating that the Ravens still like their chances against the Packers even if Jackson can’t play.
Rodgers To Play Through Injury
“”It’s not going be a problem, I don’t think,” said Rodgers, who showed no signs of pain during a 341-yard, four-touchdown outburst against the Bears on December 12.
The Ravens acknowledged the challenge of playing against Rodgers, who Harbaugh called, “one of the best ever to play the game.”
When asked about if Rodgers’ toe injury was “noticeable,” Houston responded, “Not at all. Do you see the throws he’s been making?”
Rodgers will come to Baltimore on a red-hot streak of three consecutive games with over 300 passing yards, offering a tough test for a heavily-depleted Ravens secondary.