Ian Rapoport: People Who Have Watched Lamar Jackson 'Not So Sure' He'll Return Against Bengals
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said yesterday that Lamar Jackson "has told people he thinks he'll be back" for the Ravens' wild-card playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday night.
When Rapoport made that revelation on "The Pat McAfee Show," McAfee responded by clapping and pumping his fist, but the host may have been guilty of premature exhilaration.
Rapoport added this caveat: "Other people who have watched him are not so sure."
McAfee made a guttural sound of disappointment, which was likely echoed by Ravens fans everywhere. Jackson has not played since suffering a knee injury against the Denver Broncos in Week 13.
"Really, really a big question mark about whether or not he's going to be out there," Rapoport said. "And if he's out there, you want him to be all of the Lamar Jackson that's so, so, so good, and I just don't know if that's the case right now."
Rapoport attempted to shed light on why Jackson has yet to return from an injury that initially was expected to sideline him for 1-3 weeks.
"I think what it is, and it's hard for us to understand because Lamar's so different, and he needs to be full go, and he's so fast-twitch, and he's so athletic, that when he doesn't feel right, I think he just can't be the same guy, and that's the concern," Rapoport said. "So his knee is still not quite right, he is not all the way back."
Head Coach John Harbaugh said yesterday that Jackson "has been in great spirits" and is "working super-hard" to return.
"He wants to play, there's no doubt," Harbaugh said.
What's to Like, Not Like About Ravens
NFL.com’s Jeffri Chadiha analyzed all 12 teams that are playing this weekend and identified what's to like and not like about each of them. For the Ravens, it's a tale of two sides of the ball.
"This defense has veterans, young talent, Pro Bowlers and playmakers at every level," Chadiha wrote. "If Baltimore makes a playoff run, this unit will be leading the way."
The Ravens have held their opponents to 16 points or fewer in seven of the nine games since acquiring linebacker Roquan Smith in a midseason trade. Baltimore allowed 27 points in Sunday's loss at Cincinnati, but that's misleading, as seven points came on a defensive score and three other turnovers proved costly. The Ravens limited the high-scoring Bengals to 257 yards of offense, including just 55 rushing yards (2.8 yards per carry).
As for the Ravens offense …
"The offense has been a disaster since Lamar Jackson sustained a knee injury in a Week 13 win over Denver," Chadiha wrote. "The Ravens haven't scored more than 17 points in any of their last six games. Baltimore has enough defense to keep things close with most teams. However, it can't keep pace with more explosive opponents if it falls behind.
"This all comes down to Jackson's availability. If he can't play this weekend, the Ravens are done."
Ravens Have Thrived As Visitors in Playoffs
Much is always made about having home-field advantage in the playoffs but playing on the road in the postseason hasn't been a disadvantage for the Ravens throughout their history.
Harbaugh's eight road playoff wins are the most by a head coach in NFL history. Moreover, the Ravens are 6-0 in the wild-card round, with five of those victories coming under Harbaugh.
The Ravens also were playoff road warriors under Brian Billick, going 3-1. Overall, the Ravens are 11-7 (.611) as visitors in the postseason. Conversely, the Ravens are 3-4 (.429) at home in the playoffs.
When you factor in the Ravens' two Super Bowl victories, they have 13 wins on the road/at neutral sites, tied with the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers for the most all time.
This Ravens Game Chosen As Best of the Season by ESPN
ESPN's Bill Barnwell handed out his awards for the regular season, and the Ravens were involved in his choice for "Game of the Season."
Unfortunately, it's a game Ravens fans would like to forget: the 42-38 loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 2.
"We were blessed with a series of dramatic comeback victories from the Vikings, but Dolphins-Ravens was every bit as spectacular," Barnwell wrote. "After a 103-yard kickoff return on the opening play of the game by Devin Duvernay, a 79-yard touchdown run by Lamar Jackson put the Ravens up 35-14 with 26 seconds left to go in the third quarter.
"Then the Dolphins struck, scoring five touchdowns in a preposterous fourth quarter, with Tua Tagovailoa throwing for 199 yards and four of those five scores. A 51-yard field goal gave the Ravens a three-point lead with 2:18 to go, but Tagovailoa drove the Dolphins downfield and hit Jaylen Waddle for his sixth touchdown pass of the day to win the game."
- Former Ravens scout Ian Cunningham is under consideration for the Arizona Cardinals' general manager job.