The Ravens placed starting wide receivers Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Miles Boykin, as well as top punt returner James Proche II, on the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday as “high-risk” close contacts, coach John Harbaugh said, meaning they could be available for Sunday’s must-win game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Players on the reserve/COVID-19 list have either tested positive for the coronavirus or been deemed a close contact. Players who test positive must self-quarantine for at least 10 days. Close contacts, who are identified through contact tracing, must self-quarantine for five days and continue to test.
Harbaugh said all three players would be expected to play Sunday if they continue to test negative. He added that there were no positive tests among players; only safety Geno Stone remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list while recovering from the virus.
“We don’t have any positive tests with those guys,” Harbaugh said of the three receivers. “Hopefully, we won’t. I think you see it all around the league. Guys are put on that list for that reason. There’s just a lot of that out there right now, so they won’t be able to practice for a few days, which is disappointing, but it is a reality, kind of, with what we’re dealing with this year, so we’ll just have to deal with it. But we’re hoping and praying that they don’t turn out to have it.”
The Ravens are less than a month removed from one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in sports. Over 10 days, 23 players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including stars who tested positive like quarterback Lamar Jackson, tight end Mark Andrews and defensive end Calais Campbell. The Ravens had their Week 13 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers postponed three times as the NFL attempted to contain the virus’ spread.
The wide receiver position wasn’t affected until late in the outbreak, when Willie Snead IV tested positive and had to miss the loss to the Steelers and a win over the Dallas Cowboys. In Snead’s return, he had a crucial third-down catch in Monday night’s win over the Cleveland Browns.
Brown, a first-round draft pick in 2019, had two catches for 55 yards Monday, including a 44-yard score on fourth-and-5 that gave the Ravens a 42-35 lead with less than two minutes remaining. Despite an up-and-down season, Brown is the team’s leading receiver, with 43 catches on 81 targets for 605 yards and five touchdowns.
Jackson defended Brown, his close friend, in a news conference Wednesday. Asked about Brown’s drops earlier in the game, Jackson called them “hiccups” and said, “We’re humans at the end of the day.”
“He caught that touchdown for us to help us seal that game,” Jackson continued. “Some people probably wouldn’t have went back to him. I don’t know why, because he’s been making tremendous catches for us all season, just like the one last week against Dallas. He made that tremendous [touchdown] catch. He didn’t have any drops that game, so I wouldn’t change my mind against him any other game. It happened, a hiccup. I guess he saved his hands for the right moment, I’d say.”
Boykin, a strong blocker in the run game, has 31 catches on 45 targets for 408 yards and three scores. Proche, a rookie wide receiver from Southern Methodist, has just one catch for 14 yards this year, but he’s been a sure-handed special teams presence, with 21 punt returns for 175 yards (8.3 per return) in 13 games.
The Ravens also got reinforcements earlier this week, with wide receiver Dez Bryant activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday. If the Ravens return any positive tests at wide receiver, the former Cowboys star will be counted on to help support a passing attack that might have to lean even more on Andrews, Snead and rookie Devin Duvernay. Wide receiver Chris Moore, primarily a special teams player, could also be called upon.
Baltimore Ravens Insider
Bryant “looked good” at practice Wednesday, Harbaugh said. “I think he’d been running and stuff like that. Dez is a really hard worker, so it wasn’t a full-speed practice, so I didn’t see him in that sense. But he’s excited to be back and I expect him to be 100% as he can be going into this game.”
The Jaguars enter the weekend with perhaps the worst defense in the NFL. According to Football Outsiders, they rank No. 32 overall in efficiency, with the No. 31 pass defense and No. 24 run defense. The Ravens have scored a combined 81 points the past two weeks, but have passed for only 261 yards in that span, fueled by a resurgent running game.
Sunday, 1 p.m.
TV: Ch. 13
Radio: 97.9 FM, 1090 AM
Line: Ravens by 13