Lamar Jackson, the reigning MVP from the Baltimore Ravens, tested positive for COVID-19. Jackson is one of nearly a dozen players and staff that contracted coronavirus. Backup QB Robert Griffin III, aka RG3, will start for the Ravens against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
On Wednesday, the NFL postponed the Pittsburgh/Baltimore game, originally scheduled for Thursday Night Football as part of a Thanksgiving tripleheader. The NFL bumped the game until Sunday, but that was before more staff and players tested positive for COVID-19. The outbreak has not been contained.
The Baltimore Ravens will shut down their team facility until Monday, which seems problematic considering they face Pittsburgh on Sunday. The NFL will make a full decision on the fate of the game on Friday. The league seeks to avoid a cancellation.
The Ravens have a scheduling quirk in which they play on consecutive Thursdays during Week 12 and Week 13. They were scheduled to meet the Dallas Cowboys next Thursday. The NFL, which has been overly generous with the Ravens at this point, could push Week 13’s game from Thursday to Sunday.
L-Jax Down, RG3 Up
The Ravens think that Jackson contracted COVID-19 from center Patrick Mekari, who tested positive after the Titans game on Sunday. Jackson’s game-day locker was located next to JK Dobbins, another player who tested positive.
Jackson could miss at least two weeks and two games while stuck on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. With a postseason berth on the line, this is the worst possible news for the Ravens.
After winning the MVP last season, Jackson is having an off year compared to his 2019 campaign. Jackson passed for 1,948 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions through 10 games. In only 15 games last season, Jackson connected for 3,127 yards, 36 touchdowns and just 6 picks.
The Ravens lead the NFL in rushing with Jackson leading the way. He rushed 103 times for 575 yards and three touchdowns. He averages 5.6 yards per carry, down from his remarkable 6.9 yards per carry last season. In 2019, Jackson eclipsed 1,206 rushing yards.
Three of the top four Ravens’ rushers caught coronavirus. Earlier in the week, the Ravens sent starting running back Mark Ingram (232 yards, 2 TD) and rookie RB JK Dobbins (380 yards, 2 TD, 5.3 yards per carry) on the Reserve/COVID list. Gus Edwards (376 yards, 3 TD, 4.4 yards per carry) is the only RB to not catch coronavirus.
RG3 is the next man up for the Ravens. He completed just one pass for nine yards this season. In the last three seasons with Baltimore as a backup, RG3 started just one game (Week 16 last season to provide Jackson a rest before the postseason). RG3 is 1-0 as a starter with the Ravens. The former Heisman Trophy winner started 35 games and went 14-21 with Washington between 2012 and 2014.
Praying for my brother @Lj_era8 and every player, staff member and their families dealing with COVID-19. Ensuring the safety of the entire organization is important.
Handling this outbreak within the team is bigger than football
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) November 27, 2020
Pissed Off Pittsburgh
Members of the Pittsburgh Steelers were livid. This was the second time this season they were jerked around when an opponent suffered a COVID-19 outbreak Earlier in the season, an outbreak struck the Tennessee Titans. The NFL pushed back the Pittsburgh/Tennessee game and sent the Steelers on an early bye week, despite spending the entire week in practice.
Coach Mike Tomlin wanted to reward his weary players with a mini-bye week after they completed a Thanksgiving evening game against Baltimore, in which they’d have five days off to rest and heal up. However, with the NFL bumping the Thursday game, the Steelers took another bad beat.
The undefeated Steelers (10-0) defeated the Ravens earlier in the season. Pittsburgh seeks a season sweep, which would put thrust them five games ahead of the Ravens and nearly lock up the AFC North crown.
First the NFL takes away our bye week because another team can’t get their Covid situation together, now they take away our Thanksgiving primetime game for the same reason. Smh.
— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) November 25, 2020