OWINGS MILLS, Md. – When it comes to Lamar Jackson, no news feels like bad news for Baltimore fans.
The Ravens practiced Wednesday in preparation for their playoff opener at Cincinnati, and Jackson again was absent. If there was any remaining hope that the star quarterback could make a dramatic return for the postseason at full strength, that took a substantial hit. In fact, nothing seemed to have changed.
Coach John Harbaugh again said there was no real update on the injured knee that kept Jackson out for the final five games of the regular season — although he did indicate that he could be comfortable putting a player on the field for a game if he's not quite 100%.
“If he's healthy and safe and he's not going to do any damage to an injury,” Harbaugh said. “Any player plays and does what he can, to the level that he can in that situation.”
Still, right now Jackson hasn't even made it back onto the practice field, much less shown that he can contribute in a game in any significant way. He hasn't practiced since injuring his knee in a Dec. 4 win over Denver.
Tyler Huntley, who started four games in Jackson's absence, has been dealing with shoulder issues and did not play in the regular-season finale at Cincinnati. Anthony Brown started that game. Huntley was limited in practice Wednesday.
“I'd say he's on schedule hopefully,” Harbaugh said. “He'll throw as much as he's ready to throw from one day to the next.”
The Ravens have lost three of five games without Jackson, and his extended absence came after Harbaugh initially expressed optimism that he did not have the type of injury that would be season-ending. Harbaugh has said repeatedly that Jackson is working hard to try to make it back.
Jackson's contract is expiring after he and the Ravens failed to agree on an extension before this season. That's added another element of uncertainty to the team's future and led to speculation that the contract situation is affecting Jackson's timetable to return.
“I wouldn't say that things don't ever make you mad — that you read or you hear — and people do speculate on different things,” Harbaugh said. “You try your best not to let it affect you emotionally, so at this point in time, just kind of ignoring all that.”
Huntley has started eight games in his career. Brown, a rookie, started his first in last weekend's 27-16 loss to Cincinnati. He threw for 286 yards with two interceptions, but if he has to play again, at least he has some experience now.
“He'll be another game into his career," Harbaugh said. "We're going to play with the guys we got out there, and we're excited about the guys. We have total confidence in everybody. We got a really good team.”
Defensive lineman Calais Campbell echoed that.
“I don't know if anybody is going to believe in us outside of this locker room, but we're for dang sure going to believe in ourselves here,” Campbell said. “We're going to give it our best shot. I think we have a great game plan, and I think the guys are hungry and motivated. Any given Sunday."
NOTES: RB Gus Edwards (concussion), LS Nick Moore (illness) and CB Brandon Stephens (illness) also did not practice. CBs Marlon Humphrey (shoulder) and Marcus Peters (calf) were limited.
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