The Baltimore Ravens will play for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wednesday afternoon as they tested positive for COVID-19, three postponements and the Christmas tree lights at Rockefeller Center for 10 days.
This is in order to 2020. It’s actually more like 2012.
Instead of Lamar Jackson throwing passes at Mark Andrews, a national television audience (3:40 ET, NBC) will watch Robert Griffin III throw the ball at Dez Bryant. It was eight years ago when Griffin was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and Bryant got 92 passes. Now they are being asked to help the Ravens upset the only undefeated team in the NFL.
One of the biggest breakouts in professional sports has decimated the Baltimore roster. The Ravens currently have 16 players on the Reserve / COVID-19 roster, including six Pro Bowl players and the reigning NFL MVP in Jackson.
“It’s never about who isn’t playing,” Pro Bowl linebacker Matthew Judon said at the start of the outbreak, before testing positive. “It’s always about who is play. “
So who exactly is playing for Baltimore?
As of Tuesday evening, the Ravens will have at least 10 different starters from their season opening game. There can be up to 10 different players on the active 48-man game day schedule. Baltimore could call seven or eight practice players a few hours before kick-off.
Here’s a look at what the list of game days might look like:
Quarterback: Griffin, Trace McSorley, Tyler Huntley (practice group). The 30-year-old Griffin is starting for the second time in four years. In last season’s final, he knocked out the Steelers with a less than outstanding performance while many Ravens starters were resting. Griffin was 11 of 21 for 96 yards and an interception. When McSorley can’t play, Huntley, an uncovered rookie who went 23-10 in Utah, is the primary backup. With no preseason games this year, Huntley has yet to snap a snap in an NFL game.
Back race: Gus Edwards, J.K. Dobbins, Mark Ingram, Justice Hill. Dobbins and Ingram are expected to be activated from the reserve / COVID-19 list prior to the game, but neither is likely to play. Dobbins, who served as top defender, has not trained since testing positive on November 22nd. The expectation is that Edwards will receive the majority of the transfers. In his last two games against Pittsburgh, he reached a total of 217 yards.
Broad receiver: Marquise Brown, Bryant, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay and James Proche. One of the worst-producing recipient groups lost their most consistent player, Willie Snead, who tested positive over the weekend. Brown, intended for Baltimore’s # 1 receiver, has made a total of six catches in the last four games. Bryant led all of the Ravens wide receivers in the last game with four receptions for 28 yards. Could Bryant become Baltimore’s X-Factor?
Close end: Luke Willson (PS), Sean Culkin (PS), Eric Tomlinson (PS). The Ravens have lost their two top tight ends Andrews (tested positive) and Nick Boyle (knee injury at the end of the season) along with their Pro Bowl full-back Patrick Ricard (tested positive) in the past two weeks. This leaves Baltimore with three tight ends on the training team who have made 10 catches in the past two seasons.
Offensive line: Orlando Brown Jr., Tire Phillips, Bradley Bozeman, Ben Powers, D.J. Fluker, Trystan Colon-Castillo, Ben Bredeson, Jake Rodgers, R.J. Prince (PS). The ravens’ two best centers, Patrick Mekari and Matt Skura, are on the reserve / COVID-19 list. Baltimore’s options to replace her are either Bozeman, who has never started an NFL game in the middle, or Colon-Castillo, an uncovered rookie who has not yet played an NFL snap. In any case, this is the sixth different combination of starting offensive lines this season.
Line of defense: Derek Wolfe, Yannick Ngakoue, Justin Ellis, Broderick Washington, Aaron Crawford (PS). This was the position hardest hit by the coronavirus. Three defenders, including Pro Bowl defender Calais Campbell, are on the reserve / COVID-19 list. With Brandon Williams out of the game due to an ankle injury, Wolfe remains the only remaining starter, along with a former fourth round Raiders pick (Ellis) and a fifth round rookie (Washington) who has played 46 snaps this season.
Outside linebacker: Jaylon Ferguson, Tyus Bowser, Aaron Adeoye (PS) and Chauncey Rivers (PS). Baltimore is without its two front-runners in quarterback hits Judon, 17 and Pernell McPhee, 11, both of which are on the reserve / COVID-19 list. Bowser and Ferguson, who scored 13 quarterback hits, will replace them. The bigger question is, like Judon and McPhee, can they stay ahead of the curve.
Inside linebacker: Patrick Queen, L. J. Fort, Malik Harrison, Chris Board, Kristian Welch. This position was not affected by the outbreak.
Cornerback: Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Jimmy Smith, Tramon Williams, Davontae Harris, Pierre Desir (PS), Nate Hairston (PS), Nate Brooks (PS). The only concern is whether Smith, who is in question with ankle and back injuries, will play. It is injuries, not the coronavirus, that have affected this position. Baltimore has five cornerbacks in their injured reserve.
security: Chuck Clark, DeShon Elliott, Anthony Levine, Jordan Richards and Nigel Warrior (PS). Rookie safety Geno Stone tested positive on Tuesday. He has played two games this season and only played on special teams.
Special teams: Justin Tucker (K), Sam Koch (P) and Nick Moore (LS / PS). This is the first time in six years that Morgan Cox, who is on the Reserve / COVID-19 list, won’t be Baltimore’s long snapper. The Ravens took a smart move, wearing Moore, a former member of the XFL’s Tampa Bay Vipers, on their training team for the entire season.