With Joe Flacco inactive, Lamar Jackson's path to first Ravens start is clear

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is inactive for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, ending his 41-game streak of consecutive starts and clearing the path for rookie Lamar Jackson to make his first start.

Flacco missed practice last week with a right hip injury, and he last practiced before the Ravens’ Week 9 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Coach John Harbaugh had expressed hope Flacco would be available to play Sunday, but the Ravens activated only Jackson and Robert Griffin III for the team’s 46-man game day roster.

Jackson would be the first Ravens rookie to start at quarterback since 2008, when Flacco made his NFL debut in the season opener — against the Bengals. He would also be the last of the five first-round quarterbacks taken in this year’s draft to start, though he has played in every game this season in run-heavy packages.

Still, it was not an “ideal” past week for the former Heisman Trophy winner, Harbaugh acknowledged. Jackson missed practice Thursday because of an illness, leaving Griffin as the team’s only healthy quarterback. Jackson was a full participant in practice Friday, and he told reporters, “I’m good.” He did not elaborate.

Jackson’s start Sunday could mark a turning point for the Ravens’ season, if not their franchise. The Ravens (4-5) have lost three straight, and teams with 4-6 records face long odds in making the playoffs. Cincinnati (5-4) is vying with the Ravens for a wild-card playoff berth but has lost three of its past four games, undone by a defense that’s perhaps the NFL’s worst.

In addition to Flacco, the team deactivated center Hroniss Grasu, right tackle James Hurst (back), rookie wide receiver Jordan Lasley, rookie defensive tackle Zach Sieler, tight end Maxx Williams and outside linebacker Tim Williams (right ankle).

Hurst and Tim Williams had been ruled out on Friday. This will mark Hurst’s fourth consecutive absence and the second in a row for Williams.

A pair of starters in left tackle Ronnie Stanley (left ankle) and strong safety Tony Jefferson (thigh) are active as are slot cornerback Tavon Young (ankle) and defensive back Anthony Levine Sr. (ankle).

Cincinnati scratched linebackers Preston Brown (knee) and Nick Vigil (knee), wide receivers A.J. Green (toe) and Josh Malone, right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, cornerback KeiVarae Russell and defensive tackle Adolphus Washington.

Brown, Vigil and Green are starters. Hardy Nickerson and Vincent Rey are next on the depth chart behind Brown and Vigil, respectively. Green will likely be replaced by John Ross, who started in his place in last week’s loss to the New Orleans Saints.

jshaffer@baltsun.com

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