Is Lamar Jackson Playing Today? Ravens QB Return Date Remains Uncertain

The Baltimore Ravens will be without star quarterback Lamar Jackson when they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in an AFC North with potentially huge playoffs ramification on Wednesday afternoon.

Originally scheduled to be the primetime kickoff on Thanksgiving Day, the game has been postponed three times because of a coronavirus outbreak within the Ravens that has affected at least a dozen players.

Jackson, the reigning NFL MVP, was confirmed positive on Thursday and, as per the NFL COVID-19 protocols, will have to isolate for 10 days after being placed on the COVID-19 reserve list on Friday. Should Jackson continue to test negative throughout the 10-day window, he should be available to return either on Monday, December 7 or the following day.

The Ravens were scheduled to host the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday, December 3, but the game has been moved to Tuesday, December 8 as a result of the multiple postponements that have pushed Baltimore's trip to Pittsburgh all the way to Wednesday.

The NFL moved the game from Thanksgiving Day to Sunday after news of the outbreak within the Ravens emerged, before postponing it again until Tuesday as Baltimore continued to report positive tests. The latter decision, however, was met with fierce resistance by Ravens players who complained they would not have enough time to prepare, forcing the league to schedule the game for Wednesday afternoon.

Jackson's absence in Pittsburgh means the Ravens will turn to back-up quarterback Robert Griffin III, who is line to make only his second start in four years.

After spending the entire 2017 season as free agent, Griffin joined the Ravens in 2018 but has since served as understudy to Joe Flacco and then Jackson. Incidentally, Griffin's last start came against the Steelers in Week 17 of last season, when the Ravens defeated their AFC North rivals 28-10 in at M&T Bank Stadium to finish the regular season with a 14-2 record.

Griffin, the second overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, completed just 11 of his 21 passes for 96 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception on top of 50 rushing yards over eight carries.

While the Ravens had already punched a ticket to the playoffs in his last start and the Steelers were out of the postseason race, Griffin faces a drastically different scenario on Wednesday.

Pittsburgh is top of the AFC North and the only teams still undefeated in the NFL with a 10-0 record, while Baltimore slipped to third in the divisional rankings after losing three of its last four games. A year on after finishing with the NFL's best regular season record, the Ravens are on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs picture is concerned.

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens passes the ball against the Tennessee Titans at M&T Bank Stadium on November 22 in Baltimore, Maryland. The reigning NFL MVP will miss at least one game after testing positive to coronavirus last week. Patrick Smith/Getty

A dual-threat quarterback not too dissimilar from Jackson when at his peak, Griffin was named Rookie of the Year during his first season in the NFL but his career has since been blighted by injuries and he has played just 55 games of the 106 games he has featured on an NFL roster.

During his first season with Washington, the former Baylor star suffered a right LCL sprain in December, before tearing his right ACL, LCL and meniscus a month later in the NFC Wild-Card Round against the Seattle Seahawks.

He underwent surgery in the offseason, only to miss seven weeks of the following season after dislocating his left ankle in Week 2 in his final year in Washington. In 2016, Griffin's solitary season with the Cleveland Browns got off to a nightmare start as he fractured his left shoulder in Week 1 and didn't return until 14.

Meanwhile, the Ravens should have running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram available after the duo completed their 10-day quarantine and are eligible to come off the COVID-19/reserve list.

Nose tackle Brandon Williams, third-string quarterback Trace McSorley and injured cornerbacks Tavon Young and Khalil Dorsey were all activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list.

The former, however, will not play in Pittsburgh as he continues to recover from an ankle injury.