With the team’s playoff hopes hanging in the balance Sunday afternoon against the Los Angeles Rams, the Ravens will be without starting quarterback Lamar Jackson, who will miss his third straight game because of an ankle injury.
Jackson raised hopes of a return Wednesday by practicing for the first time since injuring his ankle against the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 12. However, Jackson limped and struggled to push off his right foot during a limited practice and ended up sitting out Thursday and Friday before being listed as questionable on the team’s final injury report of the week.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Friday that the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player had a chance to play. The Ravens have started three quarterbacks over their past three games, as veteran journeyman Josh Johnson filled in for last last week’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
“It’s not any more unusual than what we’ve seen this whole season,” Harbaugh said. “I’d say it’s pretty normal at this point, believe it or not.”
The Ravens will once again turn to backup quarterback Tyler Huntley, who will make his third career start after missing last week’s loss to the Bengals after testing positive for COVID-19. This season, Huntley has totaled 758 passing yards, three touchdowns and an interception in five appearances.
“I’m just treating this like another week,” Huntley said Friday. “I mean, more reps, it feels better going into the game. But at the end of the day, I still study and draw up my plays every week, so I just feel comfortable with whatever play’s being called. Whenever my number is called, I’ve got to execute at the highest level.”
Meanwhile, Ravens cornerback Anthony Averett (ribs/chest), guard Ben Powers (foot) and rookie outside linebacker Odafe Oweh (foot) will not play Sunday. Oweh, who didn’t practice this week, will miss his first game of the season.
Averett’s absence further weakens a depleted secondary that allowed Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow to throw for 525 yards — the fourth most in NFL history — and four touchdowns in last week’s 41-21 loss. However, the Ravens activated cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Chris Westry from the reserve/COVID-19 list earlier this week and called up cornerback Robert Jackson and safety Tony Jefferson from the practice squad.
Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee and wide receivers James Proche II and Miles Boykin are also inactive. With Oweh and McPhee out, the Ravens are down to three healthy edge rushers: Justin Houston, Tyus Bowser and Jaylon Ferguson. Linebacker Malik Harrison is also an option to line up on the outside.
Wide receiver and return specialist Devin Duvernay (ankle), who was named to his first Pro Bowl, will return to the field after missing last week’s game in Cincinnati. Wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (illness) and fullback Patrick Ricard (knee) are also active. Ricard, a Pro Bowl selection and a key to the Ravens’ rushing attack, will play in his first game since a Week 13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Rams will be without running back Cam Akers, who returned to practice this week five months after tearing his Achilles tendon. Coach Sean McVay said that the team was targeting Week 18 or the playoffs for the second-year running back’s potential return.
Rams starting outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, who was listed as questionable, is active. Defensive lineman Greg Gaines, safety Taylor Rapp and running back Jake Funk, who played at Damascus and Maryland, will also suit up.
Quarterback Bryce Perkins, safety JuJu Hughes, outside linebacker Chris Garrett, outside linebacker Terrell Lewis, offensive lineman AJ Jackson and offensive lineman Tremayne Anchrum Jr. are inactive for Los Angeles.