Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson said Monday that a bone bruise in his right ankle sidelined him over the final month of the season.
Jackson was carted off the field early in a Dec. 12 loss to the Cleveland Browns with an ankle injury that coach John Harbaugh initially described as a sprain. Jackson was inactive for the Ravens’ final four games and practiced just once in that span.
In his first news conference since his Week 14 injury, Jackson called the bone bruise “day-to-day” and deferred to the Ravens’ medical staff on his timetable for a recovery. He said he labored through a gimpy Dec. 29 practice because “I wanted to play, and I just couldn’t.” Jackson, who didn’t participate in any of the team’s final five workouts, said there was a concern that he could exacerbate his ankle injury.
“I don’t really know much about how long bone bruises last and stuff like that,” he said. “But [the team’s medical staff] just told me it’s going to be day-to-day. Hopefully, it’ll speed up.”
Jackson said he was “sick” over having to miss the Ravens’ final stretch of games, the first injury-related absences of his career. The team ended the season on a six-game losing streak and missed the playoffs for the first time in his four years in Baltimore.
“Man, I tell you all how much I love football every time I talk to y’all,” he said. “That’s nothing I want to do, man. I don’t want to see myself doing that ever again.”
In Jackson’s 12 games this season, the Ravens went 7-5, improving his all-time record as a starter to 37-12. He finished his second Pro Bowl season with 2,882 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and a 64.4% completion rate, as well as 13 interceptions and 38 sacks, both career highs. As a runner, he had 133 carries for 767 yards (5.8 per attempt) and two touchdowns.
Jackson, who’s set to enter the final year of his rookie contract — he’s due to make $23.1 million in 2022 after just a $3 million salary cap hit in 2021 — said he hasn’t talked with the Ravens about a contract extension. The 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player was more concerned with preparing for the offseason and building on the resilience the Ravens showed amid a trying year.
“I feel like my team never blinked,” Jackson said. “I can’t really find the words to say about my team, but it’s crazy. Our guys just fought. We’re a bunch of fighters. We never batted an eye. We never shied away from anybody, no matter what the team record was. We were always ready, and our games, we lost close games. It wasn’t like we were getting blown out. …
“Our team was just straight fighters, you know? It says a lot about our guys, what we have here, in moving forward. And hopefully this offseason, we’re going to get right and get what we’re supposed to be and we have our guys come back and we’re going to have the season we’re supposed to have.”
The Ravens signed eight players Monday to reserve/future deals, which don’t count against the team’s salary cap until the start of the league year: offensive linemen James Murray and Jaryd Jones-Smith, wide receivers Jaylon Moore and Binjimen Victor, tight end Tony Poljan, two-way lineman Kahlil McKenzie, and defensive backs Kevin Toliver and Robert Jackson.
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Jackson appeared in five games for the Ravens’ injury-depleted secondary, while McKenzie played in five as well. Jones-Smith and Poljan saw action in three games and one game, respectively.