Times Colonist

COVID-rav­aged Ravens face is­sues be­yond sched­ule

- Sports · College Sports · American Football · NFL Football · NFL · Baltimore · Pittsburgh Steelers · Pittsburgh · Mark Ingram, Jr. · Brandon Williams · Tennessee · Twitter · Nashville · Tennessee Titans · Cincinnati · Lamar Jackson · Morgan Cox · Calais Campbell · Robert Griffin · Bromley F.C. · Mike Tomlin · Ben Roethlisberger

With reigning NFL MVP La­mar Jack­son un­der quar­an­tine as part of an out­break of COVID-19 that has rav­aged the Bal­ti­more Ravens, the team has turned its fo­cus from break­ing out of a slump to sim­ply get­ting healthy and back to prac­tice.

The Ravens have more than a dozen play­ers on the re­serve/ COVID-19 list, and their train­ing fa­cil­ity is closed to pre­vent the spread of the virus.

Jack­son tested pos­i­tive this week and will not play against the un­beaten Pitts­burgh Steel­ers on Tues­day night, a game that was orig­i­nally sched­uled for Thanks­giv­ing night and post­poned to Sun­day be­fore the NFL moved the game again.

With that game mov­ing to Tues­day, Bal­ti­more’s game against Dal­las, sched­uled for next Thurs­day, will in­stead be played on Dec. 7.

Jack­son, full­back Pa­trick Ri­card, de­fen­sive tackle Justin Madubuike, and long snap­per Mor­gan Cox were added to the COVID-19 list on Mon­day.

They join quar­ter­back Trace McSor­ley; run­ning backs Mark In­gram and J.K. Dob­bins; de­fen­sive line­men Calais Camp­bell, Bran­don Wil­liams and Ji­had Ward; line­backer Per­nell McPhee; and cen­tres Pa­trick Mekari and Matt Skura.

A year ago, the Ravens fin­ished with the best reg­u­larsea­son record in the NFL be­hind the play of Jack­son, who threw 36 touch­down passes and set a sin­gle-sea­son record for yards rush­ing by a quar­ter­back. Now Jack­son is part of a mas­sive break­down by a team that couldn’t avoid COVID-19 in the midst of a sea­son the NFL staged in the mid­dle of a pan­demic.

Bal­ti­more’s prob­lems started after an over­time loss to Ten­nessee on Sun­day, the third de­feat in four games for a team that has gone from a 5-1 start to scram­bling to make the play­offs for a third straight year.

In­gram and Dob­bins were placed on the re­serve/COVID19 list the fol­low­ing day, start­ing a chain re­ac­tion that has dec­i­mated the ros­ter.

Robert Grif­fin III is slated to start at quar­ter­back for the Ravens on Tues­day against the Steel­ers. He will be tak­ing snaps from a third-string cen­tre and hand­ing off to backup run­ning backs Gus Ed­wards and Jus­tice Hill.

“We just want to con­tain this out­break. Speak­ing from ex­pe­ri­ence, you don’t want to catch COVID,” Camp­bell wrote on Twit­ter.

“This virus is bru­tal. I pray no one else has to go through this. This is big­ger than foot­ball.”

The Ravens have dis­ci­plined one of their staffers for fail­ure to fol­low pro­to­col, re­port­edly a strength and con­di­tion­ing coach.

It isn’t the first time this sea­son that COVID-19 has toyed with Pitts­burgh’s sched­ule.

The Steel­ers were sched­uled to play Ten­nessee in Nashville on Oct. 4. When the pos­i­tive tests con­tin­ued to roll in for the Ti­tans, the NFL even­tu­ally moved the game to Oct. 25, forc­ing the Steel­ers, in essence, to give up their sched­uled bye ini­tially set for Nov. 1 — and fin­ish the reg­u­lar sea­son by play­ing 13 con­sec­u­tive weeks.

Steel­ers head coach Mike Tom­lin stressed he was hardly con­cerned with the switch, say­ing em­phat­i­cally “we do not care” when asked about the team’s rou­tine be­ing thrown off.

Pitts­burgh has cruised along any­way, though the league’s last un­beaten team has been forced to deal with its own COVID-19 is­sues in re­cent weeks.

Tight end Vance Mc­Don­ald tested pos­i­tive fol­low­ing a win over Dal­las this month.

Quar­ter­back Ben Roeth­lis­berger and in­side line­backer Vince Wil­liams were among a hand­ful of play­ers forced to self­quar­an­tine for five days due to con­tact trac­ing. Roeth­lis­berger and Wil­liams still ended up play­ing in what be­came a 36-10 rout of Cincin­nati.

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