Jackson inactive, Huntley makes first NFL start for Ravens against Chicago

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The Lamar Jackson situation went from bad to worse Sunday morning as the Ravens deactivated their star quarterback for their Week 11 game in Chicago due to a lingering illness.

Jackson had missed practices on Wednesday and Thursday with a non-COVID ailment he described as “like a cold or something,” but he returned to participate fully in Friday’s workout, told reporters he was “feeling great,” and didn’t carry a designation on the initial game status report for Sunday. However, he took a turn for the worse on Saturday with Baltimore adding him back to the injury report with a questionable designation and elevating No. 3 quarterback Trace McSorley from the practice squad, a sign there was real concern about Jackson being able to play against the Bears.

Jackson arrived at Soldier Field Sunday morning and was deemed not healthy enough to play, paving the way for second-year quarterback Tyler Huntley to make his first NFL start. Huntley took the starter reps in those Jackson-less workouts on Wednesday and Thursday and has seen action in five career games, which included replacing a concussed Jackson in the second half of the playoff loss to Buffalo last January.

Unfortunately, Jackson was only the most significant of several key absences with top wide receiver Marquise Brown being downgraded to out with a thigh injury on Saturday afternoon. Brown missed practices on Wednesday and Thursday and had only worked on a limited basis Friday before initially being listed as questionable. With Brown sidelined, the Ravens were expected to lean even more heavily on rookie Rashod Bateman, veteran Sammy Watkins, and second-year wideout and return specialist Devin Duvernay. However, it’s worth noting Duvernay was added to the injury report on Friday with a knee issue.

Cornerbacks Anthony Averett (thigh) and Jimmy Smith (hip/neck) were also deactivated for Sunday’s with Smith being limited all week and Averett being a new absence on Friday, an indication that he sustained an injury during Thursday’s practice. Those deactivations left the Ravens with only three healthy cornerbacks — Marlon Humphrey, Tavon Young, and Chris Westry — but rookie safeties Brandon Stephens and Ar’Darius Washington can also play cornerback spots in sub packages.

In more encouraging news, tight end Nick Boyle (knee) was active and poised to play in an NFL game for the first time since sustaining a major knee injury just over a calendar year ago. Right tackle Patrick Mekari (ankle) and running back Latavius Murray (ankle) also made their respective returns from injuries sustained last month.

The Ravens had four tight ends active for Sunday’s game, which sounded like a recipe to run the ball heavily with their star quarterback and top wide receiver unavailable. Baltimore also activated rookie guard Ben Cleveland, who was reinstated to the 53-man roster from injured reserve on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Bears deactivated safety Eddie Jackson (hamstring), who joined wide receiver Allen Robinson (hamstring) and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (ankle) on the Chicago sideline for Sunday’s game. On Friday, former NFL Defensive Player of the Year and six-time Pro Bowl edge rusher Khalil Mack was placed on IR with a foot injury requiring season-ending surgery.

Below were Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
QB Lamar Jackson
WR Marquise Brown
CB Anthony Averett
CB Jimmy Smith
OT Cedric Ogbuehi
WR Miles Boykin
DT Brandon Williams

CHICAGO
S Eddie Jackson
CB Artie Burns
RB Damien Williams
TE Jesper Horsted
QB Nick Foles
DT Akiem Hicks
WR Allen Robinson