Lamar Jackson missed practice Thursday because of an illness, leaving Robert Griffin III as the only quarterback on the field and adding yet another twist to the Ravens’ situation.
Joe Flacco (hip) missed his second straight practice. Jackson has a "stomach issue," according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Thus, the starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals remains unknown.
Missing important practice reps Thursday is not good for Jackson, who needs as much time as possible if he’s going to be the starter. If Jackson gets the start Sunday, it would be his first in the NFL. He has played all nine games as a situational quarterback, but has only thrown 12 passes during the regular season.
His most extensive playing time came during the fourth quarter of the Ravens’ 36-21 loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 8 when Jackson led a seven-play, 64-yard drive, capped by his only touchdown pass of the season – a 26-yard connection to rookie tight end Hayden Hurst.
Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh has not announced a starter for Sunday, refusing to rule out Flacco, Jackson or Griffin as possibilities. Flacco has started every game this season, and Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said he was confident in Flacco’s ability to play well even if he didn’t practice all week.
“I think Joe would do very, very well without practice because he has experience, he’s a smart guy, he knows how to prepare, all of those things,” Mornhinweg said. “I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t play really well without any practice.”
Griffin has not dressed for any of the first nine games, but he could easily be thrust into an important role Sunday as either the starter or the No. 2 quarterback. On Thursday, he was the Ravens’ healthiest quarterback.
“If my number is called, I’ll be able to go out there and lead this team,” Griffin said Wednesday.
James Hurst Still Dealing With Back Injury, Loves How Orlando Brown Jr. Has Stepped Up
After starting 22 straight games on the offensive line and never missing a game in his first four-plus seasons, Hurst has been sidelined for the last three games with a back injury that has tested his patience. Hurst still has not been able to practice this week after the bye.
“I’m working to get back, I’m getting better every single day,” Hurst said. “I’m really hopeful about the progress that I’ve made. Very difficult, it’s a new thing. It’s terrible that I’m not able to play and to help t the team win. But sometimes you just can’t. That’s kind of how it’s been. I’ve had to swallow that and work to get healthy.”
At this time, Hurst said his injury shouldn’t require surgery because there’s been progress in rehab. But if he remains out, he is confident Orland Brown Jr. would continue his strong play at right tackle. Brown may remain the starting right tackle once Hurst returns, especially since Hurst can play both guard and tackle, making him valuable as a starter or backup at either position.
“He’s done great, really proud of him, knew he would,” Hurst said. “He’s a very, very talented guy, been blessed with a lot of physical traits that anyone would want. He’s been working hard for this opportunity, he’s definitely taken advantage. He’s always asked the older guys in the room what he can do to get better, how to approach certain players. He’s doing everything right. We’re so lucky that we drafted him. He’s going to be a great player.”
Containing Bengals RB Joe Mixon a Focal Point for Ravens Defense
Bengals running back Joe Mixon is averaging 81.4 rushing yards per game this season, on pace for his first 1,000-yard season. Mixon rushed for 84 yards on 21 carries against the Ravens in Week 2 and gained the respect of Ravens rookie linebacker Kenny Young.
“He’s a rising back that’s going to become one of the best in the league,” Young said. “Good competitor, competes his butt off for four quarters. He wants to be the best back in this league. You can see that on film. You can see that with his consistency.”
Ravens Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale was equally impressed with Mixon.
“He’s a challenge,” Martindale said. “He’s a really good running back; I think he’s Top 10 in the NFL. We need all hands on deck with him.”
Mixon (knee) was limited in practice Thursday.
Ravens Won’t be Caught Off-Guard if A.J. Green Plays Sunday
Martindale has heard and read multiple reports that Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (toe) is unlikely to play Sunday. But Martindale isn’t convinced Green won’t suit up. Visions of Green scoring three touchdowns in the first half against the Ravens in Week 2 are still fresh in Martindale’s head. The Ravens are game-planning as if Green will be in the lineup.
“I don’t know necessarily if A.J. Green is not going play in this game,” Martindale said. “I know everybody thinks he’s not going to play. I have not heard it, so we’re preparing like A.J. Green is going to be there.
“I think he was playing at the highest level that he’s played this year. I think I may have mentioned that the first time we played them, and you can really see that.”
Green did not play Sunday against the New Orleans Saints when the Bengals were beaten badly, 51-14. But Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis also raised the possibility that Green might play during a conference call.
“Obviously, A.J. is a fine, fine player,” Lewis said. “We [would] lose another guy that makes plays for us, but hopefully we get him out there on Sunday.”
Without Green against the Saints, Tyler Boyd assumed the role of No. 1 receiver, but the Bengals’ struggled offensively and quarterback Andy Dalton threw two interceptions. If Green does not play, Lewis said the Bengals can’t use that as an excuse.
“Everybody has to do their job within the scope and the flow of the offense,” Lewis said. “Andy is going to let the things play out, and these guys have to beat people to the spot and execute the play-call. Whether it’s blocking or route-running or whatever it is, they have to do their job. When you lose a great player or have to play without a great player – we’ve all had to – everybody has to raise their level of play.”