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Jackson out, six other Ravens questionable for Week 18

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens have officially ruled out star quarterback Lamar Jackson for a fifth straight game to close the 2022 regular season.

Whether he’ll return for the playoffs next week remains to be seen.

Sidelined with a left knee injury — reported to be a PCL sprain — in the Dec. 4 win over Denver, Jackson missed a fifth consecutive week of practice and won’t play in Sunday’s tilt at Cincinnati. With concrete information scarce and conjecture at an all-time high, head coach John Harbaugh addressed Jackson’s status at the start of his Friday press conference.

“The truth is we just really don’t know. I know everybody’s working as hard as they can,” Harbaugh said. “Lamar’s working as hard as he can. The trainers are working as hard as they can. I can’t wait for him to get back, obviously, just like everybody else. That’s where we’re at with that. He won’t be playing in this game. We’ll be hopeful for next week, and we’ll just see where we’re at then.”

Jackson will turn 26 on Saturday and has now missed five games — and most of a sixth contest — in each of the last two seasons, which is notable as he’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March. Of course, the Ravens are expected to place the franchise tag on the 2019 NFL MVP if the sides cannot reach a contract extension, but questions will persist about his long-term future after two offseasons of unsuccessful negotiations.

Backup quarterback Tyler Huntley is still expected to make his fifth straight start in Jackson’s place, but he is dealing with lingering right shoulder tendinitis and was designated as questionable after not throwing during practices this week. Harbaugh said Huntley completed his normal mental preparation and has “a really good chance” to play against the Bengals while adding that rookie Anthony Brown would be ready to go if necessary.

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“I feel like I’ve got a good chance to play Sunday, although [I have to see] how I wake up feeling come Saturday, Sunday,” Huntley said. “I’ve just been resting. The best way to feel the best is a little rest, so they’ve been resting me these past couple days, and I’ll be ready to go.”

The Ravens also listed cornerback Marcus Peters (calf) and defensive end Calais Campbell (knee) as questionable as both aim to make their respective returns from a two-game absence. Peters was a limited practice participant all week while Campbell logged a full practice on Thursday and sat out the other two practices of the week.

Wide receiver DeSean Jackson missed the entire practice week due to an illness with Harbaugh acknowledging his Week 18 status being in real question. The 36-year-old receiver has caught just two passes for 19 yards over the last three games.

Should the Ravens beat the Bengals and the AFC North rivals be scheduled to face off in the wild-card round, a coin flip would determine the host of the game as part of the AFC playoff plan put into place because of the canceled Buffalo-Cincinnati game. That certainly provides Baltimore more incentive to put its best foot forward in Week 18 rather than resting as many key starters as possible, but Harbaugh acknowledged the postseason still being a factor to consider.

“The most important thing is being as prepared as we can for the playoffs,” Harbaugh said. “You really can’t sit too many guys out. This is not the preseason; you don’t have an unlimited number of guys. It’s not as big a deal as I think it’s sometimes made out to be, but our plan is to go up there and win the football game and do the best we can to win the football game.

“I’m sure the Bengals are going to be looking at it the same way and I’m sure it will be a hard-fought game.”

The Bengals listed only one player on their game status injury report with cornerback Eli Apple being listed as questionable, but head coach Zac Taylor told reporters he expects Apple to play. Starting defensive end Sam Hubbard (calf) will return to action after practicing fully on Thursday and Friday.

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Below was the final injury report for Week 18:

BALTIMORE
OUT: QB Lamar Jackson (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Calais Campbell (knee), QB Tyler Huntley (right shoulder/wrist), WR DeSean Jackson (illness), CB Marcus Peters (calf), CB Kevon Seymour (finger/illness), CB Brandon Stephens (illness)

CINCINNATI
QUESTIONABLE: CB Eli Apple (neck)

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