Like any bad news, Head Coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens turned Lamar Jackson's designation to the COVID-19 list into an opportunity.
It was a chance for Trace McSorley and Tyler Huntley to get valuable reps with the first-team offense, helping them to elevate their games and establish a rapport with those players they will play with during the preseason and if they ever need to step in during the regular season.
McSorley and Huntley have taken advantage, stringing together four excellent practices through the first week of training camp as the team waits for Jackson's return.
Often in training camp, the offense lags a little behind the defense as the kinks and timing of the passing game are worked out. That hasn't been the case this year. The offense has looked in-sync from the get-go. The next challenge will be whether that continues once the pads come on Tuesday.
"They're getting reps that guys pray for, and they're doing a good job taking advantage of it," Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said.
Huntley said he was "mad" when he heard news that Jackson was going back on the COVID list.
"It was like, 'Dang, he got COVID again,'" he said. "That's my boy. It's always good to have him around. He brings the spirit around. He just has the whole facility feeling different. So, it was like, 'Dang, we're going to miss him for 10 days.' But once he comes back, he's going to be on his thing."
Huntley grew up in South Florida not far from Jackson. The two squared off in high school, with Huntley coming out on top in one shootout game that hasn't been forgotten back home.
After starting at Utah, Huntley joined the Ravens as an undrafted free agent last year and spent the first half of the season on the practice squad. When Robert Griffin III, then McSorley, both went down with injuries, the rookie got the call up to back up Jackson.
He certainly never expected to be called upon, but when Jackson suffered a concussion in the divisional playoff game in Buffalo, Huntley was thrust into the spotlight. Now he's looking to parlay that big-game experience into being Jackson's full-time No. 2.
Huntley has shown excellent accuracy on his deep ball passing so far in camp. He also has dynamic speed, which he's shown off a few times on scrambles and designed runs. Huntley and McSorley can both run, but Huntley runs more like Jackson. Huntley said his biggest strides have been with the playbook.
"Just elevating my knowledge of the offense and taking full control of it," he said.
McSorley joined the Ravens as a sixth-round pick in 2019 and has been the No. 3 quarterback since. He got called into action against Pittsburgh last year when Jackson was out with COVID and Griffin went down. McSorley connected with Marquise Brown on a 70-yard touchdown to keep the short-handed Ravens within striking distance.
So far in training camp, he's also shown great touch and accuracy to all areas of the field. Neither quarterback has thrown an interception during 11-on-11 work thus far.
"You never want to see a teammate get sick or go down for any reason, but whatever opportunities we do get, 'Snoop' [Huntley] and I, and even Kenji [Behar], trying to take advantage of them," McSorley said. "Control all the things we can control, and whatever reps we can get, take advantage of it, because sometimes you don't always get those reps."
Once Jackson comes back, McSorley and Huntley will be back to operating with the second-team offense, battling to see who becomes the top backup. It's too early to say who has the lead, if anybody, but it's going to be one of the more interesting competitions of camp and the preseason.
"I thought both those quarterbacks really did well," Head Coach John Harbaugh said after Saturday's stadium practice. "They've played the way they've played all through training camp. You've seen them out there every single day. They've been on target."