ESPN: 'Door Open' for Lamar Jackson vs. Bengals as Ravens Preparing Huntley to Start

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 24, 2021

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 05: Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) gets up off the ground during the game against the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 05, 2021 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens reportedly aren't ready to rule quarterback Lamar Jackson out for Sunday's Week 16 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but they are preparing backup Tyler Huntley for a possible second straight start.

Jackson missed the Ravens' Week 15 loss to the Green Bay Packers with an ankle injury. It marked the first time in the 2019 NFL MVP's four-year career that he missed a game because of an injury.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported an update Friday on SportsCenter about the Ravens' outlook on Jackson ahead of a key clash with the Bengals:

"The Ravens are keeping the door open slightly, but they're preparing Tyler Huntley to start his second consecutive game. That seems to be the way this is trending right now. As a source told me, 'Lamar Jackson is such a gamer, you cannot rule him out.' So, they'll likely go into the weekend and see how he feels, unless it's just a non-starter today and they know he can't do anything at all. But, they feel pretty good that he can at least try to give it a go over the weekend. At least move him around and see what he could be able to handle if they could get to it."

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported later Friday that Huntley missed practice with a non-COVID illness, further complicating the team's QB situation. However NFL Network colleague Aditi Kinkhabwala said Huntley is still "fully expected" to play Sunday.

Jackson previously missed a 2019 game to rest ahead of the playoffs, a 2020 contest after testing positive for COVID-19 and a matchup with the Chicago Bears earlier this year with a non-COVID illness.

The 24-year-old University of Louisville product has been his usual dynamic playmaking self when healthy in 2021. He's recorded 2,882 passing yards, 767 rushing yards and 18 total touchdowns in 12 appearances this season.

Huntley went 28-of-40 for 215 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions in last week's thrilling 31-30 loss to the Green Bay Packers. He also ran 13 times for 73 yards and two scores.

The Ravens aren't nearly as dangerous without Jackson under center, which puts extra pressure on their defense, especially as they try to earn a playoff spot in the AFC down the stretch.