Ravens QB Lamar Jackson misses 16th straight practice

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- It looks as if Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is a major question mark to return for the start of the playoffs.

Jackson was not present during the media viewing portion of Wednesday's practice, which significantly decreases his chances of playing in Sunday night's wild-card game at the Cincinnati Bengals. He has not suited up since injuring his left knee on Dec. 4, a span of 38 days.

There had been some optimism last week that Jackson might come back after being sidelined for the last five regular-season games. But Wednesday marked the 16th straight practice Jackson has missed.

Asked whether he would essentially rule out Jackson for Sunday's postseason game after the quarterback didn't practice Wednesday, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said, "I don't have anything to add on that. No updates at this time."

In addition to Jackson not practicing, backup Tyler Huntley did not throw a pass during the media viewing portion Wednesday. Huntley is dealing with tendinitis in his right shoulder and didn't throw during practice last week.

Harbaugh seemed optimistic about Huntley's availability for Sunday.

"He's doing a lot better," Harbaugh said. "He was out there in practice today and took a bunch of plays. I'd say he's on schedule, hopefully, and we'll see where it goes."

If Jackson and Huntley can't play, Baltimore would start undrafted rookie Anthony Brown, who made his first NFL start in Sunday's 27-16 loss at Cincinnati. In five games without Jackson, the Ravens have averaged 13 points, which ranks second worst in the NFL.

The sixth-seeded Ravens are currently 8-point underdogs to the third-seeded Bengals. Since 2008 (Harbaugh's first season), Baltimore is 3-14 outright (.176) as an underdog of 7 or more points.

"I don't know if everybody's going to believe in us outside the locker room, but we're for dang sure going to believe in ourselves here," Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell said. "We're going to give it our best shot."

This represents the second straight season in which Jackson has missed a chunk of the end of the season. Dating back to Week 15 of last season (when he missed the final four games of 2021), Jackson has been sidelined for nine of Baltimore's past 21 games.

"Obviously, Lamar is one of one," Ravens tight end Mark Andrews said. "You look at the two other guys [Huntley and Brown], there is so much trust in both of them. We know with whoever we put out there -- Lamar, Snoop [Huntley] or AB -- we'll be all right and ready to go."

Jackson is finishing out the fifth-year option of his rookie contract. If the sides don't reach an extension this offseason, the Ravens would have to use the franchise tag on him to keep him from becoming an unrestricted free agent in March.

Asked what he would say to those who believe Jackson's absence is contract-related, Harbaugh said, "I don't really have anything to say to them right now because I'm focusing on the game. That's what we're focusing on."

In other Ravens news, backup cornerback Brandon Stephens returned to Baltimore after being hospitalized in Cincinnati this past weekend. Stephens became "acutely ill" at the team hotel Sunday morning before the regular-season finale against the Bengals and was brought to the hospital.

The Ravens said in a statement that Stephens "is feeling better and is in good spirits."