Lamar Jackson’s 2022 regular season has come to an end. The question now is whether Ravens fans will see him on the field in the 2023 postseason.
The Ravens officially ruled out Jackson for their Week 18 game against the Bengals, making it the fifth straight game he will miss due to a lingering knee injury. Tyler Huntley is questionable to play against Cincinnati on Sunday, but there has been optimism he will start. Anthony Brown would be the starter if Huntley is out.
The stakes in Bengals-Ravens have been reduced, but there is still plenty on the line for Baltimore. The cancellation of the Bengals-Bills “Monday Night Football” game clinched a second consecutive AFC North title for the Bengals. The Ravens would have had a chance to play for the division title if the Bills had defeated Cincinnati. And while the cancellation also ensured that the Ravens would enter the playoffs as a wild card, a win against Cincinnati on Sunday could give Baltimore a 50/50 chance at hosting the Bengals if they meet in a matchup of No. 3 and No. 6 seeds in the wild-card round.
While Jackson will not be able to help the team in Week 18, he could return for the playoffs and help the Ravens go on a long-awaited Super Bowl run. Will he be healthy enough to do that? Here’s what is known about his status.
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Will Lamar Jackson play in the playoffs?
It is looking more likely that Jackson will play in the postseason. ESPN’s Adam Schefter said sources in Baltimore believe there is a “strong chance” Jackson will be back for the team’s wild-card game.
Coach John Harbaugh said on Friday the team was “hopeful” Jackson would be able to return.
“I can’t wait for him to get back, just like everybody else,” Harbaugh said , per ESPN. “[Jackson] won’t be playing in this game and we’ll be hopeful next week. We’ll just see where we’re at then.”
According to ESPN, Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman previously hinted at Jackson having a chance to play in the wild-card round.
“He’s a special guy,” Roman said. “I think if somebody’s got a chance to do it, he does.”
Jackson injured his left knee against the Broncos in Week 13 after completing 3 of 4 passes for 11 yards. He has been listed as having missed each practice since the injury.
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The Ravens have been vague about his status since the injury. Harbaugh said two weeks ago that “of course” Jackson would return to the field in 2022, per Hensley, but on Wednesday, the coach was less certain. “I’m just probably going to leave all that stuff alone,” Harbaugh said.
Missing 15 consecutive practices is a troubling sign for any quarterback. Schefter reported that Jackson still has swelling in his knee, which has slowed his return. The left knee is part of his plant leg as a thrower. Beyond that, Jackson’s mobility is a major reason why he is so dangerous. At the time he was injured, he was second among NFL quarterbacks with 764 rushing yards.
Jackson finished the regular season having completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 2,242 yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also rushed 112 times for 764 yards and three touchdowns. He still leads the team in rushing yards entering Week 18.
This is the second season in row that injuries have cost Jackson extended time. He played in just 12 games in 2021 because of an ankle injury. The Ravens finished the season on a six-game losing streak to fall out of the division lead and finish last in the AFC North.
The Ravens have weathered the storm without Jackson better in 2022, but they watched another division lead with him slip away with him out. Baltimore has gone 2-2 since the injury. Before Jackson exited, the Ravens averaged 25 points per game. Including their 10-9 win over the Broncos with Huntley under center, the Ravens are averaging 11.8 points per game and have yet to top 20 points with Jackson out.
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Who will start for the Ravens in the playoffs if Lamar Jackson can’t play?
If Jackson is unable to play in the playoffs, Huntley would be the starter, assuming he is healthy. This year, he has completed 67 percent of his pass attempts for 658 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He has rushed 43 times for 137 yards and another touchdown.
And Jackson’s uncertain future with the Ravens goes beyond just his playoff status. He can become a free agent in the offseason after contract talks failed to produce a long-term agreement. Ravens fans are certainly hoping to get at least one more glimpse of him before a pivotal offseason that could see him leading a new team.