One day after Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson revealed that his injured left knee “remains unstable,” coach John Harbaugh did not offer much after Friday’s practice regarding his reaction or his assessment of what Jackson wrote via Twitter.
Asked if he knew beforehand that Jackson had planned to address the status of his knee — an injury that has sidelined the two-time Pro Bowl selection and 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player for the final five games of the regular season, as well as Sunday night’s AFC wild-card game at the Cincinnati Bengals — Harbaugh said, “I didn’t know anything about that. I haven’t paid much attention to it.”
Harbaugh also turned away a question about whether he had a discussion with Jackson about his knee’s instability.
“I’m not going to get into any conversations you have with players,” he said. “That’s just not something I would do. We have conversations about things all the time, and those are conversations between me and guys. That’s all I can say about it.”
In his tweets, Jackson wrote that he is battling a Grade 2 injury of the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that he suffered on the final play of the first quarter of a 10-9 win against the Denver Broncos on Dec. 4. He described the injury as a “borderline” Grade 3 injury involving “inflammation surrounding my knee.”
Harbaugh declined to say whether the team agreed with Jackson’s evaluation.
“That’s the thing. It’s not something that we can comment on,” he said. “The nature of an injury’s specifics, the only person that can comment on it is the person. There’s laws along those lines, and we’re educated by the league in terms of what we’re allowed to say and what we’re not allowed to say. That’s not something I can really comment on.”
Jackson was officially ruled out for Sunday’s game after missing his 18th straight practice Friday. Backup Tyler Huntley (shoulder/wrist) threw passes for the second consecutive practice, but Harbaugh declined to name a starter between Huntley and undrafted rookie Anthony Brown, who started Sunday’s 27-16 loss to the Bengals. Huntley and Brown are a combined 2-3 as the starter this season, and the team has failed to score more than 17 points in those games.
After the initial injury, Harbaugh sounded optimistic that Jackson could return, characterizing the issue as “not a season-ending” one. But as days and weeks mounted with few updates on Jackson’s status, Harbaugh said it was difficult to predict a player’s response to treatment and recovery.
He repeated that position on Friday.
“Here’s the thing: you don’t know,” he said. “It’s so challenging to stand here, and you ask questions all the time about injuries, and I understand it because it’s important. And you don’t always know. Sometimes you’re hopeful that it will be quicker. I know that I’m always hopeful that guys get back quicker. That’s the front end of any kind of prediction. Sometimes it goes the other way, and it’s longer, and you’re disappointed. That’s why it’s really tough to say. If I get up here and say that it’s going to be a certain amount of time and it doesn’t turn out to be that time, everybody’s like, ‘Well, you know, you’re not being honest with us.’ No, you really don’t know. That’s how medicine works. You don’t know, and I sure don’t know. There’s a range in there somewhere, and as a coach, you just try to get guys ready and hope the guys get back.”
Jackson’s situation is complicated by his contract status with the team. Set to become a free agent after this season, Jackson and the franchise could not agree on an extension before his self-imposed Week 1 deadline. The fact that he has missed a total of 10 games in the past two years due to injury has raised questions over whether the team would offer the kind of deal that would place him in the upper echelon of NFL quarterback salaries. If an extension can’t be reached by March, the Ravens could use the franchise tag, which is expected be about $45 million.
Jackson’s tweets also put into doubt whether he would be available for the AFC divisional round if the Ravens were to defeat the Bengals on Sunday night. Harbaugh wouldn’t say whether Jackson could play later in the postseason.
“Like I just said, I can’t know. I don’t know,” he said. “My job and what I’m excited about and what I’m thinking about right now is Sunday. I’m thinking about this team and this practice. … 8:20 on Sunday night is what I’m thinking about, and I know our guys are, too, because they’re into it.”
Huntley said he wouldn’t be surprised if Jackson attended Sunday’s game.
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“L’s my boy,” Huntley said. “It’s hard when you miss a player like that. But if he’s got a chance to come to the game, I know he will. So we’ll see.”
Ravens at Bengals
Sunday, 8:15 p.m.
TV: Chs. 11, 4
Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM
Line: Bengals by 9