With reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson quarantined as part of a COVID-19 outbreak that devastated the Baltimore Ravens, the team has shifted its focus from breaking out of a slump to just getting healthy and getting back to exercise.
The Ravens have more than a dozen players on the reserve / COVID-19 list, and their training facility has been closed to prevent the spread of the virus. Jackson tested positive this week and will not play against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers next Tuesday night, a game originally scheduled for Thanksgiving and postponed until Sunday before the NFL moved the game again.
The makeup for the makeup will be held at 8 p.m. ET and broadcast nationally by NBC.
With that game moving to Tuesday, Baltimore’s game against Dallas, scheduled for Thursday, December 3, will instead be played at 5pm on Monday, December 7 and broadcast by FOX / NFL Net / Amazon.
“We appreciate the efforts of the NFL and Pittsburgh Steelers in this process, as we all work to create an environment where the health and safety of everyone involved is paramount in every decision,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. “Our organization has a plan in place and we will be ready to play against Steelers. We thank everyone for their adaptability and look forward to the challenge of facing a very good football team at Heinz Field on Tuesday evening. “
Baltimore (6-4) will definitely be short-handed against Pittsburgh (10-0).
Jackson, fullback Patrick Ricard, defensive tackle Justin Madubuike and tall snapper Morgan Cox were added to the COVID-19 list on Monday. They join quarterback Trace McSorley; running backs Mark Ingram and JK Dobbins; defensive linemen Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams and Jihad Ward; linebacker Pernell McPhee; and centers Patrick Mekari and Matt Skura.
A year ago, the Ravens finished with the best regular season record in the NFL behind the game of Jackson, who threw 36 touchdown passes and set a single season record for yards running through a quarterback. Now Jackson is part of a massive outage by a team that couldn’t evade COVID-19 in the middle of a season the NFL staged in the midst of a pandemic.
Baltimore’s problems began after a loss in extra time to Tennessee on Sunday, the third loss in four games for a team that went from a 5-1 start to a scramble to make it to the playoffs for a third year in a row.
Ingram and Dobbins were placed on the reserve / COVID-19 list the next day, triggering a chain reaction that decimated the roster.
Robert Griffin III is scheduled to start as a quarterback for the Ravens on Tuesday against the Steelers. He will take photos of a third string center and pass it on to backups Gus Edwards and Justice Hill.
“We just want to control this outbreak! Speaking from experience… you don’t want to catch COVID! Campbell wrote on Twitter. “This virus is cruel! I pray no one else has to go through this. This is bigger than football. “
The Ravens disciplined one of their staffers for not following protocol, reportedly a strength and conditioning coach.
This isn’t the first time that COVID-19 has played with the Pittsburgh schedule this season.
The Steelers were to play against Tennessee in Nashville on Sunday, October 4. The league then moved the game to Monday or Tuesday. As the positive tests for the Titans continued to roll in, the NFL eventually moved the game to Sunday, October 25, essentially forcing the Steelers to give up their scheduled bye initially set for Sunday, November 1 – and the regular season through 13 consecutive weeks to play.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin stressed that he was hardly worried about the switch, saying emphatically “we don’t care” when asked about the routine of the team being thrown out.
Pittsburgh has continued anyway, although the league’s last unbeaten team has been forced to fix its own COVID-19 issues in recent weeks. Tight Vance McDonald tested positive after a win over Dallas earlier this month. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and inside linebacker Vince Williams were among a handful of players who were forced to quarantine themselves for five days for tracking contacts. Roethlisberger and Williams were still playing in what turned out to be a 36-10 defeat to Cincinnati.
In a sign of how pervasive COVID-19 has become, shortly after the league announced it would move the game to Tuesday, the Steelers put the defensive end of Stephon Tuitt, offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins and defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs on the COVID 19 reserve / injured list.
Tuitt is in the middle of a career year. His seven sacks are third on the team behind linebackers TJ Watt and Bud Dupree.