The Baltimore Ravens have released quarterback Kenji Bahar in what could be a positive sign for injured quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has not played since a December 12 matchup with the Cleveland Browns.
Bahar was signed shortly before the Ravens’ Week 16 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals to backup recently-signed veteran Josh Johnson, who was forced to start after Jackson’s backup, Tyler Huntley, was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Bahar’s release could indicate that Jackson is close to returning from the ankle injury that has held him out for both of Baltimore’s last two games, both of which ended with a Ravens loss. The 2019 MVP practiced for the first time in more than two weeks on December 29, though he did so with a noticeable limp, as documented by ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.
While he looked comfortable throwing the football, Jackson’s mobility appears to be limited, potentially taking away a major aspect of the Ravens offense with him under center.
Still, even Jackson’s limited participation in practice is a positive sign for the Ravens, who have lost all three games since he went down, putting them on the outside looking in on the AFC playoff picture.
Head coach John Harbaugh said on December 29 that he is “really hopeful” that Jackson can take the field against the Los Angeles Rams on January 2 amid an outbreak of COVID-19 in Baltimore. The matchup is a must-win for the playoff-hopeful Ravens, who now have just a 30% chance to make the playoffs after holding the AFC North lead for much of the season, per FiveThirtyEight.
Ravens Could Get Other QBs Back
But Bahar’s release could also be due to the activation of practice squad quarterback Chris Streveler from the COVID-19 list, per the NFL’s official transaction report. Streveler arrived in Baltimore in October after Jackson missed a game due to a non-COVID illness.
Harbaugh also told media that Tyler Huntley “should be back in here tomorrow,” hinting that Baltimore’s backup quarterback is expected to test out of COVID-19 protocol by December 30.
While Jackson would certainly be the Ravens’ preferred starting quarterback, Huntley has proven himself as a viable backup in his three major appearances this season. He led a game-winning two-minute drill against the Chicago Bears, nearly led an 18-point comeback against the Browns after Jackson’s injury and kept pace with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
Ravens Activate Key Defenders
While the Ravens’ quarterback situation is still up in the air, they will get outside linebackers Tyus Bowser and Justin Houston back from the COVID-19 list. Houston tested positive and didn’t play in Cincinnati, while Bowser was activated just one day after being added to the list.
Bowser and Houston have produced one-third of Baltimore’s 32 sacks this season, with rookie Odafe Oweh chipping in five of his own as well.
The Ravens got a handful of other players back from the COVID-19 list, including practice squad offensive tackle David Sharpe, who has provided valuable veteran depth this season.
Linebackers Chris Board and Kristian Welch were also activated, as well as safety Geno Stone. While none of the three are regular starters in Baltimore, they have all played well when called upon this season. Stone even started at safety against the Packers with Chuck Clark out.
The multiple returns should provide some relief to a beleaguered Ravens defense heading into a visit from the top 10-ranked Rams offense.