A right ankle injury again sidelined Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson at practice Thursday, likely leaving the team without its most important player for its most important game of the season.
Jackson, who also missed practice Wednesday, has participated in just one workout since he was carted off the field in a Week 14 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 12. He was inactive for Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams despite practicing as a limited participant in last week’s first session.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Thursday that Jackson remains “day-to-day” despite his limited availability. If Jackson misses Friday’s walk-through, he will have practiced just once in the past 26 days. Ravens coach John Harbaugh declined Wednesday to comment on whether he expected Jackson to practice or play in Sunday’s regular-season finale.
“I don’t see the value of talking about it at this time,” he said.
The Ravens, who need to win Sunday in Baltimore to keep their faint playoff hopes alive, were missing seven other players at practice Thursday. Outside linebacker Odafe Oweh (foot) and cornerback Anthony Averett (ribs/chest) missed their second straight practice. Wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (ankle) and left guard Ben Cleveland (head) also were out. Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, running back Devonta Freeman and defensive tackle Brandon Williams all got the day off to rest.
Right tackle Patrick Mekari, who missed Wednesday’s practice with a hand injury, was upgraded to limited. Left guard Ben Powers (foot) was limited for the second straight day.
The Ravens also placed fullback Patrick Ricard and tight end Nick Boyle on the reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday, the team’s first active-roster players to be sidelined by coronavirus protocols in over a week.
Ricard, who has been dealing with a knee injury in recent weeks, was also placed on injured reserve, meaning his season is likely over. A Pro Bowl selection and pending free agent, Ricard has played in just one game since Week 13, returning Sunday for the Ravens’ loss to the Rams.
Boyle, who’s appeared in five games since returning from a serious knee injury that ended his 2020 season, would need to test out of the NFL’s protocols to be cleared for Sunday’s game. His absence would limit the offense’s ability to contain Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt, who had 3 ½ sacks in their Week 13 meeting. Like Ricard, Boyle’s also one of the Ravens’ most important run blockers.
Under the league’s updated protocols, the standard isolation period after a positive test for asymptomatic individuals has been reduced from 10 days to five days, regardless of vaccination status. Fully vaccinated players who test positive can clear protocols sooner if they return two negative tests within one day and are asymptomatic.
The Ravens had last placed a member of their 53-man roster on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Dec. 28. After tight end Josh Oliver was activated Tuesday, the team had no players sidelined by the virus. Running back Justice Hill and safety Ar’Darius Washington also came off the reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday, but both remain on season-ending IR.
In Pittsburgh, the Steelers placed starting wide receiver Diontae Johnson and starting center Kendrick Green on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Johnson is the team’s leading receiver (100 receptions for 1,110 yards) and has a career-high eight touchdowns in 15 games. On Wednesday, the Steelers also placed starting cornerback Joe Haden on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
At Thursday’s practice, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (pectoral/right shoulder) was a full participant after being limited Wednesday. Starting left tackle Dan Moore Jr. (ankle), starting right guard Trai Turner (knee), reserve inside linebacker Buddy Johnson (foot) and reserve cornerback Arthur Maulet (illness) did not practice.