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Ravens' QB Situation Becomes Clearer As Joe Flacco Misses Practice

November 28, 2018
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Quarterback Joe Flacco remained sidelined from Ravens practice Nov. 28, and although head coach John Harbaugh remained noncommittal about the Ravens' quarterback situation, all indications are rookie Lamar Jackson will make his third straight start when the Ravens visit the Atlanta Falcons Dec. 2.

Harbaugh declined to comment on an NFL Network report that Flacco still has yet to be cleared medically to return to the field. Flacco has missed the past three games with a hip injury sustained against the Pittsburgh Steelers Nov. 4.

"There's a process involved, and it has to do with the doctors and trainers and his rehab," Harbaugh said as he met with the media before practice Nov. 28. "He's progressing very well, I can tell you that. … There'll be another step today and tomorrow and the day after that, and we'll see where we're at."

Flacco has not practiced in more than three weeks, and although Harbaugh declined to say how many practices Flacco would need before playing once again, it seems unlikely that Flacco could be close to 100 percent Dec. 2 if he were still not medically cleared four days earlier.

Harbaugh previously said Flacco's injury had a likely time frame of three to four weeks, which could make him available this week, provided he was cleared by doctors. Flacco was scheduled to visit a hip specialist earlier this week. 

Running a read-option offense that has revived the Ravens' running attack, Jackson has led the Ravens (6-5) to a pair of wins that vaulted them back into playoff position after three straight losses before the bye week. 

That has fueled widespread debate about whether Jackson or a healthy Flacco should be the team's starting quarterback going forward. 

The Ravens remain in tenuous position, clinging to the sixth and final AFC playoff spot, but road games at Atlanta (4-7), Kansas City (9-2) and the Los Angeles Chargers (8-3) still remain. 

Flacco did not hold the Wednesday news conference he has customarily held throughout his career when healthy, though Jackson met with the media. Jackson and Harbaugh discussed the prospect of Jackson making his first NFL road start. 

"Definitely, there's a new set of issues with playing on the road," Harbaugh said, citing crowd noise, cadence, snap counts and even proper communication via the helmet headset, all of which can be magnified when playing in an enclosed space such as Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium. "It'll be a challenge for all of us, but he's up to it. Looking forward to seeing how he does." 

NOTEBOOK

EDWARDS, COLLINS SIDELINED: Running backs Gus Edwards and Alex Collins (foot) were absent from the portion of practice open to the media. Edwards did speak to the media before practice, so it's possible he is just getting a rest day after getting 40 carries during the past two games. 

Harbaugh said Collins' injury is "day to day," though the rapid rise of Edwards -- who is coming off back-to-back 100-yard rushing games -- has seemingly changed the equation at running back regardless.

With those two sidelined, running back reps were handled by Ty Montgomery, Buck Allen and Kenneth Dixon, who technically is still on injured reserve but has returned to practice. 

Also absent from practice was safety Tony Jefferson, who suffered an ankle injury against the Raiders. He has not missed a game in two seasons with the Ravens. 

In addition to Flacco, Edwards, Collins and Jefferson, others missing practices included wide receiver Michael Crabtree, guard Marshal Yanda, defensive backs Jimmy Smith, Tavon Young, Eric Weddle and Anthony Levine, and linebacker Tim Williams. Several of those players could have been getting a veteran's day off. 

J. HURST RETURNS TO FIELD: Offensive lineman James Hurst returned to practice after missing the past five games with a back injury. Rookie Orlando Brown Jr. has taken over Hurst's starting spot at right tackle, though the versatile Hurst could also work at guard, where Alex Lewis is dealing with a shoulder injury. 

JONES NAMED SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Ravens punt returner Cyrus Jones was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after he returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown in the Ravens 34-17 win against the Oakland Raiders on Nov. 25. 

Jones' score, which gave the Ravens the lead for good at 10-7, was the first touchdown of Jones' three-year NFL career. Jones has averaged 14.1 yards on 13 returns since taking over as the Ravens primary punt returner in Week 6.

RAVENS SIGN TE KEIZER TO PRACTICE SQUAD: The Ravens added rookie tight end Nick Keizer to the practice squad to replace Darren Waller, who was signed off the Ravens practice squad by the Raiders. Keizer (6-foot-4, 251) played at Grand Valley State, also the alma mater of Ravens Brandon Carr and Matthew Judon. Keizer was with the Ravens in training camp but was released at the end of training camp.  

Follow Bo on Twitter @bsmolka    

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox