Tyler Huntley has approached every situation with poise as a young quarterback, and that hasn't changed this week, knowing he might start Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.
When Huntley has played in the past, he has received little advance warning or none at all. He found out about two hours before kickoff that he would start Week 11 in Chicago. On two other occasions, against Buffalo in last year's playoffs and against Cleveland last weekend, Huntley entered the game after Jackson was injured.
However, Huntley has taken all the first-team reps in practice this week with Jackson still recovering from last week's ankle injury. Huntley believes the extra reps will help, and he has remained calm about the prospect of starting a crucial Week 15 game against a formidable foe.
"I feel like I don't prepare any different than any other week; I just got way more reps this week," Huntley said. "That's about it. I feel like that'll make it a little bit more comfortable."
Huntley's cool demeanor is something coaches and players noticed right away after he was signed as an undrafted rookie last year. Though he is soft spoken, Huntley has confidence in his ability and hasn't been fazed by the NFL stage.
"Football is football," Huntley said. "That's the only answer I can give you. Since I've played little league, [if] they want me throw the ball, I can throw the ball, and so that's all that it comes down to."
Head Coach John Harbaugh said Huntley has been in command all week and is ready to go if Jackson can't play.
"He had a really nice week of practice," Harbaugh said.
Chuck Clark Could Still Play Sunday
Chuck Clark hasn't missed a game since becoming a starting safety in 2019, but he was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday. However, Harbaugh is still hopeful Clark will play against the Packers.
Harbaugh said the NFL's latest testing protocols would allow Clark to play Sunday if he tests negative for the coronavirus through Saturday.
Clark wears the green dot helmet, the player who receives communication from the coaching staff to relay defensive calls to his teammates. If Clark doesn't play, another defensive player will accept that role.
"It'll be the guy that's going to be on the field most of the time," Harbaugh said. "I really don't want to say who it is now, but it's just the next man up for the green dot as well."
Updates on Ja'Wuan James and Daelin Hayes
Offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James has completed two weeks of practice but has not been activated to the 53-man roster. With just four games left in the regular season, Harbaugh did not offer a timetable for James' return, if he plays at all this season. James suffered a torn Achilles while training in May.
"It's really his body [and] his Achilles," Harbaugh said. "It's how he feels about it, so I wouldn't really want to speak for him on that. It'd be up to him."
Harbaugh was much more optimistic that rookie outside linebacker Daelin Hayes would return soon. Hayes and veteran Pernell McPhee were working off to the side on a tackling sled during Friday's early portion of practice.
"I expect him to be out here pretty soon," Harbaugh said. Then Harbaugh looked at his watch. "I told Daelin, 'I have a calendar on that watch – it's looking like it's time to me,'" Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh Has Backup Plan In Case He Could Not Coach
The New Orleans Saints announced Head Coach Sean Payton tested positive for COVID-19 Friday and will not be on the sideline for Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive for the virus on Wednesday.
Harbaugh was asked if he had a plan for who would coach the team if he tested positive for the virus.
"Oh my gosh, you already have me buried," Harbaugh said, laughing. "You're throwing dirt on me – come on.
"I will cross that bridge when we get there, how about that? I do have a plan, yes. There is a plan in place."
Harbaugh Offers Concern for Wounded Baltimore Police Officer
Harbaugh began his press conference Friday by offering his best wishes to Baltimore Police Officer Keona Holley, who was seriously wounded early Thursday after reportedly being ambushed while sitting in her police car.
Two men were charged with shooting Holley on Friday.
"Just wanted to start off by sending out our best wishes to Keona Holley and her family," Harbaugh said. "Officer Holley is one of many very brave officers that protect our city, protect our county, day in and day out, year in and year out. Our prayers are with her and her family and for all the officers out there who do an amazing job protecting us."