Is Lamar Jackson Playing Today? Ravens QB Could Return Against Cowboys

The Baltimore Ravens should have Lamar Jackson available for their game against the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday night after the reigning MVP cleared the NFL's coronavirus protocols.

The Ravens officially activated Jackson off the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday after the quarterback completed his 10-day quarantine and he is expected to start when the Ravens welcome the Cowboys at M&T Bank Stadium on Tuesday night.

Jackson tested positive for coronavirus on November 26 and was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list the following day. However, while he hasn't played since the Ravens' 30-24 overtime loss at home against the Tennessee Titans on November 22, Jackson has only missed one game—last week's 19-14 defeat in Pittsburgh against the Steelers.

Jackson's return comes as the Ravens continue to whittle down the reserve/COVID-19 list after suffering a major outbreak last month, which affected at least a dozen players.

The cluster of coronavirus cases forced the NFL to postpone the Ravens' trip to Pittsburgh three times, moving it from its original primetime slot on Thanksgiving to last Wednesday afternoon.

As a result, the game against the Cowboys, which was originally scheduled as the Thursday Night Football matchup for Week 13, was also rescheduled twice.

The Ravens now have only six players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, marking the first time since November 25 that the team has had fewer than 10 players on the list.

Along with Jackson, Baltimore also activated fullback Patrick Ricard, defensive tackle Justin Madubuike and long-snapper Morgan Cox after defensive ends Calais Campbell and Jihad Ward, running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram II were both activated over the past week.

Centers Matt Skura and Patrick Mekari have also been activated as has outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, with tight end Mark Andrews, wide receiver Willie Snead and outside linebacker Matthew Judon expected to follow suit ahead of next week.

"I know there are going to be questions about the guys who are coming off the COVID list and whether they'll play or not," Ravens coach John Harbaugh told the media on Monday.

"It's a medical decision. It's really premature for me to comment on any of that at this point. I don't know until the medical decisions are made finally. We don't talk about who comes off that list ever until the transactions are official on the NFL wire. That's our policy."

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens rushes with the ball against the Tennessee Titans at M&T Bank Stadium on November 22 in Baltimore, Maryland. The reigning MVP should return against the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday. Patrick Smith/Getty

Jackson's return comes at a very opportune time for the Ravens, who have slipped to third in the AFC North after losing four of their last five games and have no room for error if they're to mount a late playoff rally.

At 6-5, Baltimore is currently ninth in the AFC and trails the Indianapolis Colts by two games in the race for the last wild card spot in the conference, with the 7-5 Las Vegas Raiders also in the mix following their dramatic win against the New York Jets on Sunday.

The silver lining for the Ravens is that they have the easiest remaining strength of schedule of any NFL team. Baltimore travels to Cleveland to take on the 9-3 Browns on Monday Night Football next week in a matchup with huge playoff ramifications, but its AFC North rivals are the only team with a wining record left on the Ravens' schedule.

Following the road game against the Browns, Baltimore faces consecutive home games against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Giants, before a trip to Cincinnati in Week 17.

If the Ravens have looked like a pale imitation of the team that finished with an NFL-best record 14-2 last season, Jackson has also failed to replicate the form that earned him the MVP award 12 months ago.

The 23-year-old threw for 3,127 yards and a league-best 36 touchdowns and just six interceptions last season, setting an NFL record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,206.

In 10 games this season, Jackson has passed for 1,948 yards, 15 touchdowns and has already thrown as many interceptions—six—as he did in the whole of the 2019 campaign.

He has rushed for just 575 yards, less than a half of his tally from a year ago, while his quarterback rating has dropped from an NFL-best 83 to 61.8, which ranks him 21st in the league.

The good news for Jackson is that he comes up against the NFL's worst defense in terms of points allowed. The Cowboys allow a league-worst 32.6 points per game and have conceded at least 20 points in each of its 11 games this season, the longest such streak in franchise history, as per NFL Research.

In its most recent game, Dallas suffered an embarrassing 41-16 shellacking at home against the Washington Football Team, dropping to the bottom of the NFC East with a 3-8 record.