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Will the timing of Kenji Bahar’s release impact the Ravens’ QB strategy for their preseason finale?

The undrafted rookie and hometown product was let go again, prompting questions about whether Lamar Jackson will make his preseason debut this weekend.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Carolina Panthers Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens got a head start on trimming their roster down from 85 on Monday with four roster moves. Their fifth and final transaction was waiving rookie quarterback Kenji Bahar for the third time this summer.

Bahar went undrafted out of Monmouth University this year and has been the resident camp arm when the Ravens have needed one either due to COVID-19 or injury. He’s a local kid from Maryland and played at Calvert Hall high school.

While the release of the first-year signal-caller isn’t a surprise, the timing of it is. With Bahar no longer in the building and Trace McSorley sidelined with a back injury, that leaves Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley as the only two healthy quarterbacks left on the roster eligible to play in the preseason finale against the Washington Football Team this Saturday.

Jackson has yet to play or even suit up for any exhibition action this year while Huntley played all but three snaps against the Carolina Panthers this past weekend. Some pundits believe that Bahar’s premature release ahead of the final round of cuts is an indication that the former league MVP will be taking the field for the first time in live-action since January for the ‘Battle of the Beltway’.

As much as we’d all like to see Jackson on the field and tearing it up as soon as possible, Bahar’s release doesn’t necessarily mean his preseason debut is imminent. While I agree that the Ravens will likely dress both quarterbacks, there’s a chance that Jackson only comes in the case of an emergency and they continue to get an extended look at Huntley as he aims to completely secure the backup job.

As I mentioned earlier in the article, Huntley essentially played the entire game outside of the final possession that consisted of one handoff and a pair of victory formation kneel-downs. That means that there is a possibility that Jackson spends the third and final game of the preseason like he did the first two, on the sidelines cheering on his teammates.

Another factor in whether Jackson plays or not on Saturday is the health status of his protection unit. The Ravens’ offensive line bounced back from a poor performance in Week 1 of the preseason with a dominant one in Week 2. A big reason for that turnaround was because three-fifths of the starting five, including the entire right side, were playing together for the first time outside of practice.

The competition at left guard appears to be heating up with rookie Ben Cleveland’s return to practice from a concussion this week. All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley is on track to be ready for the opener and hasn’t been ruled out for this weekend either.

While Jackson would have a solid group to block for him if he were to play, there’s no guarantee that he’d have enough wide receivers to throw to if he did take the field. The position group was already hit hard by injuries coming into the week and had two more players go down Monday and miss practice on Tuesday. The Ravens are so light at receiver right now that they have enlisted the help of some of their defensive backs to take some reps and run drills.

Head Coach John Harbaugh isn’t tipping his hand either way so we’ll all just have to take the wait-and-see approach, Jackson certainly is.

“That’s up to Coach [Harbaugh]," said Jackson. "I’d love to play [and] get out there with my guys, but that’s Coach’s decision. I’m with him, whatever he decides.”