Four days before taking on the Dallas Cowboys, the Ravens are down to one quarterback on their 53-man roster.
Lamar Jackson remains on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and Robert Griffin III was placed on injured reserve Friday. That leaves second-year quarterback Trace McSorley preparing as if he will be the starter Tuesday night.
Under the NFL's protocol for returning from the COVID-19/Reserve list, players who test positive must quarantine for a minimum of 10 days. Under that timeline, Jackson could be eligible to play against the Cowboys. However, it remains to be seen whether he'll be physically prepared to do so.
Head Coach John Harbaugh stated that it's a medical decision, not a coaching decision, and did not elaborate on Jackson's specific status.
Griffin pulled his hamstring during an outside run in the second quarter of Wednesday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He remained in the game until the fourth quarter when McSorley took over.
It's a hard-luck injury for Griffin, who said it was the first time in his career that he injured his hamstring. It was his second start since 2016 and first in a high-stakes game. Griffin led the team in rushing with 68 yards but completed seven of 12 passes for just 33 yards and a pick-six.
McSorley entered the game in the fourth quarter and helped bring the Ravens back into the game, connecting with Marquise "Hollywood" Brown on a 70-yard touchdown.
McSorley had one other completion for seven yards in his six attempts. The mobile quarterback added three runs for 16 yards, including a 6-yard carry on fourth-and-2 to keep the Ravens' comeback hopes alive.
McSorley is in his second season after being a sixth-round pick out of Penn State in 2019. His touchdown pass to Brown was just the sixth pass of his NFL career, at least in a regular-season game, and it came in Pittsburgh. Quite a way to start a career, especially for a Nittany Lion.
"Obviously we weren't able to get the win, which is the ultimate stat line in the NFL," McSorley said. "It was good to get back out there again, get back in the feel of a game. It has been a few years, since last preseason that I had any real game action. It was good to be out there with the guys, get in the huddle, be around the guys in a game setting and get that feeling going, get the adrenaline going. It felt really good being out there with everyone."
The Ravens drafted McSorley thinking he could be groomed to be a solid backup for Jackson. Now the third-string quarterback could be thrust into the spotlight in what's virtually a must-win game against the Cowboys with Baltimore riding a three-game losing streak.
"I think Coach (Quarterbacks Coach James) Urban always has all the quarterbacks preparing [to start]," McSorley said. "That's the standard he holds us to, to prepare like that. As you can see, you never know what's going to happen. Obviously, I'm wishing the best for Lamar and his health and that he can get back as soon as he can. But we have to prepare just as we have been and be prepared for anything."
The last time McSorley started an NFL game was on Aug. 22, 2019 in a preseason contest against the Philadelphia Eagles. He lit them up in the first half, throwing two touchdowns and running for another. He threw for 203 yards and completed 16 of 24 passes in the first half.
Harbaugh said McSorley has grown like other players in his understanding of the offense and McSorley has the faith of his teammates.
"Trace is somebody that since he's been here, he's come in with the mentality and poise to lead a team and lead an offense," left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. said. "I've always felt he was capable of coming in and playing at a high level. Given the opportunity, I know that he can play at a high level.
"I've got a lot of respect for him and the way that he carries himself, how consistent he approaches the game, how consistent he is when he takes command in the huddle. When he came in and made that big throw, he let us know that, 'Hey, we need to score this drive and get something going to have an opportunity to win this game.'"
McSorley said he was basically just taking what the defense gave him against the Steelers. Pittsburgh's front seven is perhaps the best in the league and Baltimore was just trying to hang in there with a reshuffled and injured offensive line and other primary weapons missing.
If McSorley is called into action against the Cowboys, he'll go against a defense allowing the most points (32.6) and rushing yards (156.4) per game.
To this point, McSorley's NFL claim to fame has been going viral on TikTok. Now he could make a splash against "America's Team" on a primetime stage.
"That whole TikTok thing was super random, kind of how it got started," McSorley said Friday. "I didn't even have a profile on the TikTok platform. That kind of just tells you how the Internet is a crazy place and how there's no rhyme or reason for why things go viral."
The Ravens could bring up undrafted rookie quarterback Tyler Huntley to the gameday roster if they need another backup. Huntley was a COVID activation in Pittsburgh.