After defeating the 49ers and the Bills, the Ravens have now won 9 straight games. They will have a more favorable matchup on Thursday night against the Jets, but they are dealing with a slew of injuries. Here are 5 players to watch.
Lamar Jackson is officially listed as questionable for Thursday night's game.
QB Lamar Jackson (quad), TE Mark Andrews(knee), S Anthony Levine Se. (ankle) and OLB Jihad Ward (elbow) are questionable.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) December 11, 2019
Nevertheless, Jackson said he was going to play after Tuesday's practice.
Lamar Jackson on quad injury: “I feel great. I feel 100(percent). I’m going to be out there playing Thursday night.”— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) December 10, 2019
If Jackson does indeed play, his quad injury is worth monitoring. There is concern that opposing defenses are targeting his legs. Earl Thomas recently expressed concern about it to Jamison Hensley of ESPN:
Ravens safety Earl Thomas feels refs need to protect Lamar Jackson more and sees teams targeting Jackson’s legs— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) December 10, 2019
The Ravens should not have too much trouble defeating the 5-8 Jets, and hopefully, Jackson can leave the game without aggravating the injury.
This could also be a monumental game for him statistically. He only needs 23 rushing yards to break the single-season rushing yard record for a quarterback currently held by Michael Vick.
Robert Griffin III
In the unlikely event Jackson sits out, Robert Griffin III will be thrust into the starting lineup as the team's starting quarterback. Across his three appearances this season, Griffin has completed 12 out of his 16 passes for 129 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Still, this would be the first time Griffin played without a large lead this season.
If Jackson does suit up as expected, we could still see Griffin on the field, since it is possible that Ravens could build a sizeable lead. If Jackson is able to get the Ravens a large lead, it is certainly in the franchise's best interest to rest him.
The Jets do not have a strong offensive line. They currently allow 3.6 sacks per game which is 5th worst in the NFL. Two weeks ago, Carlos Dunlap was able to record 3 sacks against them helping the Bengals win their 1st game of the season. Dunlap entered the game with only 2.5 sacks.
Matthew Judon has been unstoppable lately elevating the Ravens defense with a career-high 8.5 sacks including 4.5 sacks in the past 4 games. Judon can break this game open as a pass rusher. Let's see if he can take advantage of this matchup.
Ronnie Stanley is officially doubtful with a concussion. Stanley likely sitting out is obviously a huge loss. According to PFF, he is the highest-graded pass-blocker among left tackles this season.
Ronnie Stanley is setting the standard in pass blocking among LTs this season pic.twitter.com/EM6uyaCsVO— PFF (@PFF) December 8, 2019
As a result, veteran James Hurst will be thrust into the starting lineup. Hurst was a regular starter for the Ravens in previous seasons. In fact, he has started a total of 42 games with the Ravens. Unfortunately, there is a significant drop-off in talent between Stanley and Hurst, and with Jackson dealing with an injury, the stakes are high. Hopefully, he can step up and have a solid game.
Like Jackson and Stanley, Mark Andrews is also dealing with an injury. He is listed as questionable. Andrews is the team's leading receiver, and Jackson's favorite target. The Ravens have two other good options at tight end in Hayden Hurst and Nick Boyle if Andrews is out. Marquise Brown would also likely receive more targets. Andrews' status is definitely worth monitoring until gametime.