Tyler Huntley will start Sunday's regular-season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Head Coach John Harbaugh announced Friday.
That means Lamar Jackson's 2021 season will end on the shelf unless the Ravens make the playoffs, as the quarterback is still dealing with the ankle injury that has sidelined him for a month. For the first time since the injury, Jackson was officially ruled out for the game.
Jackson practiced only once since suffering an ankle injury on Dec. 12 in Cleveland and had a pronounced limp when he did.
Huntley will make his fourth start, this time against a division rival in a game the Ravens must win to keep their slim playoff chances alive.
Huntley scored four touchdowns in a breakout performance against the Green Bay Packers but had a tougher time against the Los Angeles Rams last week. Part of it could be because he didn't feel totally right after coming off the COVID-list mid-week. Huntley said he feels "way better" this week as opposed to last.
"I think anybody that had COVID can vouch for me," Huntley said. "Days after, I was still feeling it in my chest. Just getting that sickness up and out of me, [I had] a couple days without eating, I finally got some food in me and stuff."
Jackson had never missed a start in his first three years in the league due to injury. If the Ravens don't make the playoffs, his season will end with four straight games missed. Even though it's Jackson's 25th birthday Friday, it's probably not the happiest one he's had.
"He wants to be out there every time," Huntley said. "Being in the locker room, it's so hard not seeing him go out there and being great how he usually is. … I can't wait for L to feel better. And happy birthday, man. I miss you out there."
Ravens cornerback Anthony Averett (ribs/chest) was ruled out again after not practicing all week, meaning Baltimore will likely again lean heavily on Tavon Young and Jimmy Smith.
Ravens rookie outside linebacker Odafe Oweh (foot) did not practice for a second straight week and is doubtful to play. It would be a second-straight missed game if he can't suit up.
Right tackle Patrick Mekari (hand) is ready to go in a matchup against Steelers pass rusher T.J. Watt, who needs just 1.5 sacks to break Michael Strahan's single-season sack record (22.5). Mekari practiced fully Friday.
The Ravens will not have at least one of two other top blockers, however, as Pro Bowl fullback Patrick Ricard was placed on injured reserve and the Reserve/COVID-19 list and tight end Nick Boyle is also on the COVID-list.
Guard Ben Powers (foot) returned to practice this week, which might be good timing considering Ben Cleveland (head), missed some time this week. Both are questionable to play.
Wide receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown missed Thursday's practice because of an ankle issue but returned Friday. Wide receiver and Pro Bowl returner Devin Duvernay (ankle/knee) is questionable.
For the Steelers, starting nose tackle Isaiah Buggs (illness) has been ruled out. Starting left tackle Dan Moore Jr. (ankle) is doubtful after not practicing all week. Starting guard Trai Turner (knee) returned to full practice Friday.
Top wide receiver Diontae Johnson, who scored two touchdowns and topped 100 yards in the teams' earlier meeting, was cleared from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Friday afternoon. Starting center Kendrick Green and cornerback Joe Haden remain on the list.