Lamar Jackson back as Baltimore preps for Browns
Lamar Jackson’s illness is dissipating to the extent the Baltimore quarterback intends to take the field Sunday night when the Ravens host the Cleveland Browns in a key AFC North battle.
Jackson missed last week’s victory over the Chicago Bears but rates his chances of playing at “120 percent” as the first-place Ravens (7-3) battle the last-place Browns (6-5).
For those keeping count, it was Jackson’s third sickness-related-absence of the regular season. That doesn’t include his second bout with COVID-19 during training camp.
“Feeling great this time,” Jackson told reporters on Wednesday. “I’m back, feeling good. I’m positive (in terms of outlook). No relapses, man, we’re good.”
Jackson said his sickness intensified last Saturday. When Jackson was ailing the next day, the Ravens went with backup Tyler Huntley. He guided a late scoring drive in the 16-13 victory over the Bears.
“I have no clue,” Jackson said of why he became increasingly ill. “I just got fatigued, was catching little chills, was out of it. … I was trying to rest, trying to recover and get all the way better and I’m just sweating in my sleep.”
This Sunday night, Jackson might be the healthiest quarterback on the field.
Browns signal-caller Baker Mayfield continues to battle injuries to his left shoulder, knee and foot and his production has taken a nosedive.
Mayfield was intercepted twice and completed just 51.7 percent of his passes during last Sunday’s 13-10 win over the lowly Detroit Lions. He passed for 176 yards and one touchdown.
Mayfield’s high yardage output over the past five games is 234. Cleveland has scored 14 or fewer points in four of those games.
“I’m not going to make every throw — no one does that,” Mayfield said. “But I was very frustrated with where I was going with the ball compared to how the results were. That’s very frustrating. I’ve always been an accurate guy. That was not the case (against Detroit).”
The Browns will watch Mayfield closely during the week. He didn’t practice on Wednesday.
“We will always defer to the medical staff and make sure that a guy is ready to go,” Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski said. “Obviously, you have discussions with the players in that same vein. We won’t put guys out there who cannot protect themselves.
“To say that Baker is not battling — I think you all know that — but he’s ready to play and ready to help the team win, but we will always have those conversations week to week.”
The Browns badly need Mayfield to emerge from his struggles because a scheduling oddity has the Ravens being the opponent in back-to-back games.
Cleveland has a bye next week and then hosts Baltimore on Dec. 12. The Ravens visit the Pittsburgh Steelers in between the two matchups with the Browns.
Baltimore has won the past three meetings, including a wild 47-42 affair last December on the Monday night stage.
Mayfield passed for 343 yards in that contest but Cleveland’s best bet this time might come in a low-scoring game.
Defensive end Myles Garrett leads the NFL with 13 sacks and the Browns have allowed an average of 12.3 points in their six victories.
The defense isn’t so stout in losses as it has given up more than 30 points in four of them while allowing an average of 35.4 points in the five setbacks.
Meanwhile, the late drive engineered by Huntley kept Baltimore in first place in the tightly packed AFC North. There is much at stake as the Ravens play five of their final seven regular-season games against division foes.
“It’s just a great division. I have been in this division now for many years, and it’s always like that,” Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. “It really doesn’t really matter what the records are, it’s still always really, really tough to play these games.”
While Jackson was a full practice participant on Wednesday, 10 Ravens sat out. Among those were defensive end Calais Campbell (concussion) and cornerback Jimmy Smith (neck).
Mayfield and receiver Jarvis Landry (knee) were among six Cleveland players to miss practice.
Also, the Browns designated running back Kareem Hunt (calf) and offensive tackle Jack Conklin (elbow) as players to return from injured reserve. It isn’t yet clear if either player will be activated by Sunday.
–Field Level Media