The Baltimore Ravens will not start injured star quarterback Lamar Jackson in their Week 18 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to an announcement made by head coach John Harbaugh.
“Tyler [Huntley] will be the starting quarterback in the game against the Steelers on Sunday,” Harbaugh told media on January 7, meaning that Jackson will not take the field in what will likely be the Ravens’ last game of the 2021-2022 NFL season.
Jackson injured his ankle on December 12 against the Cleveland Browns, missing the rest of that game and Baltimore’s four games since, all of which ended in losses despite Huntley’s best efforts.
The Ravens still have one path to the playoffs, needing a win over the Steelers and desired results in three other games to reach their fourth consecutive postseason.
Harbaugh expressed confidence in his team’s preparedness ahead of their matchup with the Steelers, saying that the Ravens had “one of our best weeks of practice.”
“It’s been fast, it’s been on point,” continued Harbaugh, “Timing has been excellent on both sides of the ball, as well as special teams.”
The Ravens lost their first matchup with the Steelers on December 5, with Jackson unable to connect with tight end Mark Andrews on a game-winning two-point conversion attempt. Baltimore will enter their second meeting without fullback Patrick Ricard, who was placed on injured reserve on January 7, with absences from cornerback Anthony Averett and rookie linebacker Odafe Oweh also expected.
Jackson’s Season Likely Over
Harbaugh’s announcement indicates that Jackson’s ankle injury is still bothering him too much to play, bringing a disappointing conclusion to a once-promising season.
Jackson was even considered to be an MVP frontrunner after brilliant performances against the Indianapolis Colts and the Minnesota Vikings before interceptions, illness and injury derailed the second half of his season.
He’ll enter the offseason focused on returning to full health while also negotiating a long-term extension with the Ravens. Baltimore extended Andrews and offensive lineman Patrick Mekari already this season as part of their continued commitment to build a stronger supporting cast for Jackson, who struggled with poor play from his offensive line and wide receivers in the first few years of his career.
Ravens Offense Heading Into 2022
While the offensive line is still a work in progress, Baltimore’s receiving corps have taken a huge leap forward this season with the addition of rookies Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace, as well as veteran Sammy Watkins. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown is likely to reach 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career, while Devin Duvernay and James Proche have been effective out of the slot.
The Ravens offense will also benefit immensely from several key players returning to full health. Running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards have missed the entire season, while All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley was only able to play in Week 1 before undergoing season-ending surgery for a second consecutive year.
Still, the Ravens enter Week 18 with the seventh-most offensive yards this season, a somewhat surprising statistic given that fans in Baltimore have frequently called for the firing of offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
It’s unclear if Roman is actually on the hot seat, given all of the roster turnover he’s had to deal with this season, but any announcement on his future would come after the Ravens’ season concludes.