In all-too-familiar spot going to Cincinnati, Ravens hope healthy Jackson will be difference

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Thinking the Ravens were about to take the lead as he briefly walked away from his TV last January, Lamar Jackson remembers hearing the sudden roar of the Cincinnati crowd.

Like many in the greater Baltimore area, the then-injured quarterback said he “almost hit my screen” upon seeing Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard running the opposite way with the football for a touchdown after Tyler Huntley’s goal-line fumble early in the fourth quarter of the 24-17 loss in the wild-card round. Eight months later, the Ravens are again far from a picture of health preparing for another trip to Cincinnati, but they’ll at least have a healthy Jackson playing against their AFC North rival on Sunday, which wasn’t the case for their last three trips to Paycor Stadium — all losses.

“Just being out of the game, that’s not something I want to do ever again,” said Jackson, who hasn’t suited up on the road against the Bengals since the 2020 regular-season finale. “Going back to Cincinnati, it’s a great atmosphere, great crowd. I have some of the Louisville guys in the area, so it’s great support from the Ravens fan base in Louisville. It’s great to be there.”

Unfortunately, Jackson and the Ravens will likely be without arguably their two best offensive linemen as left tackle Ronnie Stanley (knee) and center Tyler Linderbaum (ankle) missed Wednesday’s practice after being described as “week to week” by head coach John Harbaugh. Stanley and Linderbaum suffered their injuries in the fourth quarter of the season-opening win over Houston.

Should they not play, Patrick Mekari would start at left tackle and Sam Mustipher would presumably be elevated from the practice squad to play center. Of course, the Ravens will also be without Week 1 starting running back J.K. Dobbins, who was officially placed on injured reserve Tuesday after tearing his left Achilles tendon in the third quarter against the Texans.

“They have to step up. The players that are stepping in, I believe they’ve had some playing time with us too,” said running back Gus Edwards when asked about the banged-up offensive line. “They get a lot of practice reps. They’ll be ready, and I have faith in them.”

The same will need to be true in the secondary with free safety Marcus Williams sidelined indefinitely with a pectoral injury and top cornerback Marlon Humphrey still not practicing as he continues to recover from mid-August foot surgery. That’s far from ideal as the Ravens try to slow Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and a talented offense that will be feeling great urgency after their embarrassing Week 1 loss at Cleveland. Geno Stone is expected to start in Williams’ place while the Ravens used Brandon Stephens and Ronald Darby as their starting outside cornerbacks in the opener.

Though the Baltimore defense managed to give Burrow problems in all three meetings last season, Jackson’s absence was ultimately too much to overcome in both Week 18 and the wild-card round. The Ravens aren’t interested in making any excuses, however, as they prepare to play shorthanded once again.

“Any time you’ve got 11 on the field and you want to play football, I think you’re getting your best shot from people,” inside linebacker Patrick Queen said. “We’ll try to [make it] a different story this time. We’ve got Lamar out there; we’ve got other guys out there this time. We’re going to go out there and try to play our best game and get the win.”

The Ravens hope to welcome back three-time Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews, who practiced on a limited basis Wednesday after sitting out the opener. Andrews was a limited participant all last week as he practiced for the first time since suffering a late-summer quadriceps injury, but Baltimore elected to hold him out.

In contrast to the Ravens’ health woes, all but one player on the Bengals’ 53-man roster practiced on Wednesday.

Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Marlon Humphrey (foot), C Tyler Linderbaum (ankle), OT Ronnie Stanley (knee), S Marcus Williams (pectoral)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DE Cam Sample (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: RB Chris Evans (hamstring), DE Joseph Ossai (ankle), LB Logan Wilson (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: QB Joe Burrow (calf), S Dax Hill (hand)

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