The Ravens are taking extra precautions this week amidst an increase of NFL players and coaches being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and following their game against the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns are dealing with a surge in cases since their game against the Ravens on Sunday.
Head Coach Kevin Stefanski and starting quarterback Baker Mayfield were both placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday, along with defensive players John Johnson III, Troy Hill and Malik McDowell. Eight Browns were placed on the list Tuesday, including starting wide receiver Jarvis Landry.
The Ravens placed reserve center Trystan Colon on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday, but there were no new additions Wednesday. Head Coach John Harbaugh said the team would remain vigilant, as has been the case all season.
"We're following all the COVID protocols that the NFL has put forth 100%, I'd say 120%," Harbaugh said. "We've been extra cautious. We separate guys whenever we think there's any possibility of anything. You just do the best you can. We've been through it before; we understand how challenging it is. We're trying our best."
Coaches and players are hardly oblivious to the surge in cases around the country. Ravens rookie wide receiver Rashod Bateman was stricken with the virus during the summer of 2020 when he was still in college at Minnesota and felt very ill for two weeks.
Bateman does not want to live through that experience again, and he has taken precautions against it.
"I got that vaccine, I hope it works," Bateman said. "I'm going to start putting my mask on. I am vaccinated, so hopefully I won't have those problems anymore."
Stopping the Run Would Help Ravens Stop Aaron Rodgers
The Ravens will have their hands full Sunday trying to stop the Green Bay Packers offense led by Aaron Rodgers, an all-time great quarterback. However, containing the Packers' running attack is one of the keys to stopping their offense.
A.J. Dillon (614 yards) and Aaron Jones (599 yards) rank as one of the league's top running combinations, both averaging 4.3 yards per carry.
Ravens outside linebacker Justin Houston says the Ravens can't ignore Green Bay's running game in their quest to put pressure on Rodgers.
"They have the big guy [Dillon], he's downhill. And they have speed with [No.] 33 [Jones], and he can do it all," Houston said. "He runs tough. He can run downhill. He has speed. He has great hands. They have some weapons over there.
"We have to make them one-dimensional. We have to stop the run. If we're going to give ourselves any type of hope to win this game, we have to stop the run."
If the Ravens put Rodgers in obvious passing situations, Houston said they still have to rush with discipline due to Rodgers' mobility.
"I think you have to rush as a unit, as a complete unit, everybody on the same page," Houston said. "You have to push the pocket as one group. You can't go on an island and be over there by yourself, because he'll pick that apart. I think he has eyes on the back of his head, because he sees everything upfront while he's looking downfield. He's a special guy."
Rodgers has been playing with a toe injury most of the season, but Houston doesn't believe that will be a factor on Sunday.
"Do you see the throws he's been making?" Houston said.
Bateman Takes Unselfish Approach to Targets
Bateman had his first 100-yard day as a pro against the Browns (seven catches, 103 yards) after being shutout and targeted just once the previous week in Pittsburgh.
Neither outcome fazed Bateman, who is more concerned with trying to help the Ravens win. He's a team player who isn't caught up in his statistics, whether he's targeted one time or 15 times.
"The way I look at it is, you're either selfish or you're not selfish," Bateman said. "At the end of the day, it's not about me, it's not about my success, it's not about what I'm doing and my stat line. It's about what am I doing to help this team win."
Harbaugh appreciates Bateman's maturity as a young player, and his emergence as a playmaker could be a key for Baltimore down the stretch.
"He understands that it's week-to-week," Harbaugh said. "You might get 12 balls thrown your way, or more, or you might not. You just don't know how the game is going to play out, so you better be running every route as if the ball is coming your way."
Bateman should've had his first career touchdown Sunday, but he was somehow marked short of the goal line after making a 36-yard catch and run. It appeared the ball clearly crossed the goal line before he was down.
"I definitely got the touchdown," Bateman said. "I don't know what happened there, but it was definitely a touchdown. I think we all know that."
Tony Jefferson's Arrival Brings Smiles
Signed to Baltimore's practice squad this week, veteran safety Tony Jefferson has already brought positive vibes to the building. Harbaugh said Jefferson's presence provides a welcome spark during a long season.
"He was in the weight room this morning, and he came down there full of life and energy," Harbaugh said. "I saw him at breakfast again, and he's been in the meetings. He's a great personality. He's one of our guys. Having him back, I think it's a good shot in the arm for all of us, and he can still play. He had a heck of a workout. We'll see how it factors in here, but I'm excited about it."
Young cornerback Chris Westry thinks he can learn from Jefferson's experience in the secondary.
"This is my first time meeting Tony," Westry said. "You can already tell the veteran presence he has. It's tremendous."