Lamar Jackson’s Availability vs. Bears Suddenly In Doubt

Ravens Lamar Jackson

Getty Baltimore Ravens quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley take the field ahead of a game against the Miami Dolphins.

The Baltimore Ravens may be without superstar quarterback Lamar Jackson for Sunday’s Week 11 game against the Chicago Bears after the 23-year-old was added back to the team’s injury report earlier today.

Jackson battled a non-COVID illness all week, missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday, but he returned on Friday as a full participant. He was not listed on the Ravens’ initial Week 11 injury report yesterday, but the Ravens announced on Twitter this afternoon that Jackson is officially questionable to play tomorrow.

NFL Network’s Stacey Dales reported that Jackson “wasn’t feeling well at the team’s walk-through this morning,” forcing the Ravens to give him an official injury designation and prepare for his potential absence on Sunday. If Baltimore didn’t update Jackson’s status and he didn’t play, they would have violated NFL rules for an unreported injury.

Dale continued:

He was added to the injury report ‘just in case’ he is unable to play Sunday against the Bears, and his illness symptoms do not improve. The team’s plan is to monitor him on the flight to Chicago, and monitor him upon arrival.

The Ravens felt concerned enough about Jackson’s availability to use one of their two practice squad elevations for tomorrow’s game on quarterback Trace McSorley, per the NFL’s official transaction report. A 2019 sixth-round pick, the former Penn State Nittany Lion was the third-string quarterback in Baltimore for the first two years of his career behind Jackson and Robert Griffin III.

If Jackson is unable to play, McSorley will serve as the Ravens’ backup quarterback with Jackson’s usual backup, Tyler Huntley, starting under center.

Huntley To Start If Jackson Can’t Play

Jackson’s absence would be a huge blow to the Ravens, as the 2019 MVP has put the team on his back several times this season.

Huntley, who signed with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2020, spent last season on the practice squad and was activated for Baltimore’s COVID-impacted game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in November, though he did not play. Injuries to McSorley and Griffin elevated Huntley to backup status by the end of the season; he took over at quarterback after Jackson suffered a concussion during a January playoff game against the Buffalo Bills.

While Huntley is certainly a downgrade from Jackson, he’s still fully capable of commanding the Ravens’ read-option offense after starting for three seasons at the University of Utah as a dual-threat quarterback. He beat out McSorley for the backup quarterback job in the preseason, showing off his arm during a 285-yard, five-touchdown outburst against the Washington Football Team.

Huntley earned a 90.5 grade from Pro Football Focus for his efforts against Washington, proving that he’s more than just a stopgap option at quarterback in Baltimore. While the Ravens would certainly prefer that Huntley not be pressed into duty tomorrow, they will likely still feel confident against an extremely depleted Bears team.

Ravens Fans React

Jackson’s illness has drawn the attention of Ravens fans all week. Jackson even took note of fans’ concern yesterday, telling the Baltimore fanbase that he appreciated their well wishes.

His updated status today reignited those concerns, with many fans using humor to cope with the prospect of a Jackson-less Ravens game tomorrow.

Jackson told reporters yesterday that he “used to eat my Flintstone vitamins when I was a kid,” per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, causing the Ravens’ Ryan Mink to wonder about modern-day Jackson’s medication regimen.

Another fan referenced Michael Jordan’s famous 1997 ‘flu game,’ comparing Jackson to the NBA great, partially due to his ability to pull of late-game comebacks this season.

And of course, Ravens fans couldn’t resist another opportunity to take a shot at oft-criticized offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who many have blamed for last week’s offensive collapse against the Miami Dolphins.

The Ravens will not know Jackson’s status until tomorrow morning, when a good night’s sleep will hopefully have revitalized the former Louisville Cardinal.

Be sure to check back tomorrow to find out if Jackson will start against the Bears!