The Ravens continued preparations for Tuesday night's game against the Dallas Cowboys with Lamar Jackson (Reserve/COVID-19) still not at practice Saturday.
There has been no official word on whether Jackson will return against the Cowboys, but Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said Jackson was continuing to prepare virtually and was keeping up to speed with the game plan.
"He's fully engaged on these virtual meetings," Roman said. "He's part of all that, gets to watch all the film once practice takes place. Then we'll have another virtual meeting and look at the practice. The only thing he can't do, obviously, is be here at the facility and actually take part in it. But mentally I think he's right on it."
With Jackson out and backup Robert Griffin III on the injured list, second-year pro Trace McSorley and undrafted rookie Tyler Huntley have handled the practice reps this week. Roman said the offense has gotten in good work with the two young quarterbacks.
"Trace and Tyler are doing a very good job," Roman said. "They're excited about their opportunity. I think we had a good day yesterday (Friday), looking forward to having a good day today."
Ravens Making 'Severe' Adjustments at Tight End
First Nick Boyle suffered a season-ending knee injury Nov. 15, then Pro Bowler Mark Andrews went on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Nov. 30. That left the Ravens without one of the league's best blocking tight ends in Boyle, and without Andrews, who leads the team with 38 catches and six touchdown receptions.
Losing them has pressed three new tight ends into service. Luke Willson, who was signed on Nov. 17, has been promoted to the 53-man roster after playing a season-high 37 snaps against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Sean Culkin and Eric Tomlinson also played 16 snaps apiece against Pittsburgh after being promoted from the practice squad.
The tight end position is critical to Roman's schemes from both a blocking and receiving standpoint. Major changes have been made, but Roman praised the new tight ends for how they have performed under trying circumstances.
"We've had to make some severe adjustments going back to last week," Roman said. "Every day things were changing. That's how it goes, so you make those adjustments. It's definitely unique. It's a challenge that presents itself and I really feel like the guys that have been here have really given everything they have to help contribute and get on the same page. I thought they did a phenomenal job last week getting ready on a short window.
"I saw the three of them trotting out on the field pre-game. It was like three new faces coming out. It's a credit to them. Sometimes that's just how it goes. You take it and make the most of it. That's what we plan on doing."
Dalton Gets Another Crack At Ravens
Andy Dalton spent nine seasons as the Cincinnati Bengals starting quarterback, which meant facing the Ravens twice a year. Sometimes the Ravens got the best of Dalton, sometimes he got the best of them (he has an 8-8 career record vs. Baltimore). But Tuesday night, Dalton will face Baltimore for the first time as the Cowboys' starter.
Dalton isn't having a stellar season (five touchdowns, five interceptions, 77.5 quarterback rating), but he has thrown four of his five touchdown passes over his last two games. When he looks at Dalton, Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale still sees a dangerous player.
"I think he has a different skill around him so that might look a little different to you," Martindale said. "He's a tough quarterback who has played in this division, the AFC North. He can stand there and make the tough throws. They've tailored things to him as well to expand on his strengths. It's going to be a great challenge for us because we know him and he knows us. That will be a chess match in itself."
Different Corners Rising to Occasion
The Ravens may have the NFL's deepest cornerback rotation led by Pro Bowlers Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, and veteran Jimmy Smith, who is having one of his best seasons. However, their depth at the position has been tested all season.
Smith suffered a groin injury against the Steelers, Tavon Young and Iman Marshall are out for the season, Khalil Dorsey (shoulder) is on injured reserve, and Terrell Bonds suffered a knee injury before he was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
That has forced other corners to step up, and against the Steelers, both Tramon Williams (45 snaps) and Davontae Harris (17 snaps) answered the call. Harris forced a fumble on a punt return, and Williams was solid playing regular snaps once Smith was injured.
Martindale is pleased with how the corners have responded, and he was particularly impressed with how Harris responded against Pittsburgh in his Ravens debut.
"We put him out there, he made some plays, he made some plays on special teams and he made some plays for us on defense," Martindale said. "It's a credit to the corners themselves and to the coaches. And I think it's our package. It's easy to teach. It's easy to learn. And guys can play fast. We accept challenges. We look forward to challenges. If you look at it any other way, you're going the wrong direction."
On Thursday, Anthony Averett returned to practice to add even more depth to the group.