Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, sources confirmed to ESPN.
The reigning NFL MVP is the biggest celebrity player to contract one of the biggest outbreaks in the NFL.
Jackson is among the four newest Ravens players and a staff member who tested positive on Thursday, a source shared with ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Ravens had at least a dozen players tested positive for the coronavirus this week.
This final round of positive testing could jeopardize Sunday’s game between the Ravens and the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers, which was postponed from Thursday evening. Raven’s coach John Harbaugh told the players that for safety reasons they could not return to the team facility until Monday at the earliest, a source said.
As of Friday morning, the status of the game hasn’t changed and the league continues to monitor the situation, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. The NFL is trying to determine whether it is medically safe to play the game after five consecutive days of positive testing in Baltimore and whether this could wear off over the weekend.
Baltimore has only two healthy quarterbacks: backup Robert Griffin III and practice player Tyler Huntley. No. 3 quarterback Trace McSorley is currently on the Reserve / COVID-19 list.
If Jackson was quarantined for 10 days, Griffin would start the next two games when the game is played in Pittsburgh on Sunday. Baltimore will then face the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday evening. Griffin, number 2 in the 2012 draft, has only made one start in the past four seasons.
“I pray for my brother [Jackson] and every player, employee and their families involved in COVID-19, “Griffin said in a tweet Thursday. “It is important to keep the whole organization safe. Managing this outbreak within the team is bigger than football.”
On Friday, teammate Calais Campbell tweeted: “We just want to contain this outbreak! From experience … you don’t want to catch Covid! This virus is brutal! I pray nobody else has to go through this. This is bigger than football.”
According to a source, the Ravens believe Jackson was infected on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, where the Ravens lost 30-24 in overtime to the Tennessee Titans and only tested positive on Thursday. Jackson took snaps of center Patrick Mekari, who tested positive on Wednesday. Jackson’s locker on game day is similar to that of running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram II, who both tested positive on Sunday night.
Losing Jackson is another blow to the NFL’s high-profile rushing attack. Jackson and Dobbins and Ingram, already on the reserve / COVID-19 list, make up 74% of Baltimore’s total rushing this season (1,187 out of 1,605).
Jackson will be officially put on the Reserve / COVID-19 list on Friday. This is the fifth day in a row that Baltimore has tested positive.
The Ravens already have eight players on the Reserve / COVID-19 list: Ingram, Dobbins, Mekari, Campbell and Jihad Ward, Brandon Williams, Pernell McPhee and Matt Skura.
This has been a tumultuous season for Jackson and the Ravens, former preseason Super Bowl favorites who have fallen to 6-4 after losing three in their last four games.
A year after becoming the league’s second unanimous NFL MVP, Jackson struggled to achieve the same level of success, especially in the passing game. His 20.5 point drop in overall QBR from last season (an NFL high of 83.0) to this year (62.5) is the largest in the NFL. It ranks 22nd in overtaking maneuvers (1,948) and 28th in the completion rate (63.4%).
Jackson has increasingly voiced his frustration this month, from saying defenders are calling for offensive games to declaring the Titans “wanted” [the win] more than we “last Sunday. His sideline wasn’t that strong either. The offensive line has changed constantly due to injuries, and the broad receivers have already lost as many passes this season (six) as they have in all of last year.
Losing Jackson means five starters on the Baltimore offensive at the start of the season are either in the injured reserve (left tackle against Ronnie Stanley and Nick Boyle) or in the reserve / COVID-19 list (Jackson, Skura and Ingram).
The news of Jackson’s positive test was first reported on the NFL Network.