OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Despite a trying health picture headlined by the absence of Lamar Jackson, the resilient Ravens still managed to come away with a 16-13 victory in Chicago on Sunday.
For head coach John Harbaugh, it was nothing new as overcoming injuries has been the major story of the 2021 season.
“It’s been that way all year,” Harbaugh said. “Every single week has been a challenge in terms of who’s going to be up and down, so we’ve got to get everybody ready, and our coaches have done a great job of that — preparing really the whole roster to play because it turned out to be, ‘You’ve got to be ready to play.'”
However, not having your star quarterback is a different dynamic as Jackson appeared to be over a midweek illness on Friday before he had a setback and couldn’t play against the Bears. Taking the starter reps in place of Jackson in Wednesday and Thursday practices, backup Tyler Huntley performed admirably and orchestrated back-to-back scoring drives to end the game as Baltimore completed its fifth fourth-quarter comeback victory of the season.
The Ravens couldn’t have asked for much more from Huntley, but they clearly hope not to need him again. Harbaugh is hopeful that Jackson will be healthy enough to take part in Tuesday’s walk-through when players return to the team’s training facility.
“He felt good today,” Harbaugh said Monday. “I don’t know how good, but he was feeling much better today from what I was told. I haven’t seen him.”
Jackson wasn’t the only key absence in Week 11 with top wide receiver Marquise Brown missing his first game since his rookie season due to a thigh injury. Brown took part in Friday’s practice on a limited basis and was initially listed as questionable on the game status injury report before being downgraded to out on Saturday.
It’s unclear whether Brown suffered a setback, and Harbaugh didn’t say much about his health when asked Monday if he had thought the third-year receiver would play or if his status was more uncertain.
“I’m optimistic and hopeful, and it’s always iffy,” Harbaugh said. “So it’s all of the above really. It’s not really an ‘or.’ You’re hopeful, and he didn’t make it.”
Cornerback Anthony Averett also missed Sunday’s game due to a hamstring injury sustained late in the practice week, but Harbaugh indicated the starting defensive back should have a good chance to return against Cleveland on Sunday night. Chris Westry started in Averett’s place against the Bears.
“I don’t expect him to be out long. It is not a serious hamstring — quote, unquote — injury,” Harbaugh said. “I actually thought he would play in the game. He got to the game, went out there and tested it, and just didn’t feel like he could go.”
Placed on injured reserve over the weekend, outside linebacker Pernell McPhee is expected to play again this season after it was determined that he’d have “kind of a cleanup scope” on his knee. McPhee, 32, must miss a minimum of three games before he’s eligible to return to practice next month.
In other roster news, the Ravens designated inside linebacker Malik Harrison to return to practice from IR. Harrison was placed on the non-football injury list on Nov. 1 after he was struck in the calf by a stray bullet in downtown Cleveland during the bye weekend.
The Ravens also waived defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie from the 53-man roster on Monday afternoon. McKenzie has appeared in four games this season and had been promoted from the practice squad over the weekend.
After being elevated from the practice squad to back up Huntley in Sunday’s win, quarterback Trace McSorley is signing to the Arizona Cardinals’ 53-man roster. The 2019 sixth-round pick out of Penn State appeared in three games for the Ravens, but he didn’t make the active roster out of training camp after Huntley beat him out for the No. 2 job.
Practice-squad offensive tackle Adrian Ealy has been reinstated from the reserve-suspended list and can resume practicing this week.