Sunday won’t just be the start of divisional play for the Ravens against the Cleveland Browns, but it will be a celebratory day, as former linebacker O.J. Brigance turns 50.
Brigance, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2007, has remained a key part of the Ravens’ organization and Baltimore community. He works as senior adviser to player engagement and holds an annual 5K run to raise money for ALS treatment.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Brigance has been an inspiration to the team through his will and spiritual strength.
“Nothing like this has ever been accomplished before,” Harbaugh said Friday. “This is an otherworldly accomplishment for O.J. to be turning the big 5-0, as he put it.”
Harbaugh said Brigance was presented with a cake Thursday before addressing the team. Brigance will be brought onto the field during the second quarter of Sunday’s game and the marching band will play “Happy Birthday” for him.
Jackson’s teammates adjusting to off-script plays
Quarterback Lamar Jackson’s mobility has been a point of emphasis for opposing defenses, especially when the initial play breaks down.
While Jackson does his best to extend plays, his movement can lead to confusion for his teammates.
“He’s wild, man. He’s amazing," running back Mark Ingram II said Wednesday. “I don’t think there is anything like him in the league, as far as just extending plays and being able to juke defenders. He’s special. Sometimes he’s scrambling, and we’re all out there like, ‘Do we block? Do we try to get open?’ You’re trying to be there for him, but he’s just doing crazy stuff.”
A perfect example of this dilemma came during Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, as Jackson began to scramble and essentially waved off tight end Mark Andrews, who signaled he was open.
Two Ravens receivers, Seth Roberts and Willie Snead IV, were the beneficiaries of Jackson’s off-script maneuvering, catching Hail Mary-type passes as the team attempted to mount a second-half comeback.
“On a passing play, we always want to stay an eligible receiver as long as possible,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Thursday. “When Lamar gets close to the line of scrimmage, that’s when it becomes an instinctive [reaction]. Your human instinct takes over. So, you have to really hang with him as a receiver as long as possible. That’s really the challenge.”
Andrews, Humphrey questionable for Sunday
Tight end Mark Andrews (foot) and cornerback Marlon Humphrey (hip) are listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.
Andrews returned to practice Friday, on a limited basis, after not practicing the previous two days. Andrews said he is “well on his way” to playing Sunday. Humphrey was a limited participant in practice the entire week.
The Ravens ruled out linebacker Otaro Alaka (hamstring), cornerback Jimmy Smith (knee) and safety Brynden Trawick (elbow).
Cleveland listed three members of their starting secondary as questionable: safety Morgan Burnett (quad) and cornerbacks Denzel Ward (hamstring) and Greedy Williams (hamstring). Burnett, Ward and Williams have not practiced this week after missing last week’s game.
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Starting right tackle Chris Hubbard (foot) is also questionable. Backup offensive tackle Kendall Lamm (knee) has been ruled out.