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Ravens to sit Lamar Jackson, start Tyler Huntley against Steelers

Quarterback Lamar Jackson will not play Saturday against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game that has no impact on the Baltimore Ravens in the standings, coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday. Baltimore has clinched the AFC’s top seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Harbaugh said that Tyler Huntley will start Saturday’s game at M&T Bank Stadium and veteran Josh Johnson will be the No. 2 quarterback. Malik Cunningham, who the Ravens signed off the New England Patriots practice squad last week, will be the No. 3 quarterback and also be used at wide receiver and on special teams. Jackson, meanwhile, will be inactive for the first time this season.

“I’m cool with it. Me and coach talked about it. I felt like it was (most) suitable to sit me and stuff like that,” Jackson said. “I believe (Huntley) can get the job done and we have guys who are going to go out there and ball out. I have all the faith in my team.”

Jackson will end the regular season with 3,678 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 821 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. He’s considered the favorite to win his second MVP award.

Harbaugh said he considered numerous factors and ultimately decided that it was the right move to sit Jackson and make sure he’s as healthy as possible going into the playoffs. The Steelers need a victory to stay alive in the AFC playoff hunt.

Harbaugh didn’t elaborate on whether he’d rest other starters beyond saying that reserve safety Daryl Worley, who is battling shoulder and ankle injuries, will not play. The Ravens have several banged-up players, including guard Kevin Zeitler, safety Kyle Hamilton, cornerback Marlon Humphrey and inside linebacker Patrick Queen, who may not play Saturday.

“We’re really not ruling anybody else out for the game until we see what our injury situation is,” Harbaugh said.

In 2019, the Ravens clinched the AFC’s top seed and a playoff bye ahead of their regular-season finale against the Steelers. Harbaugh that year opted to hold out Jackson and several other veteran starters for the game. The Ravens then played a flat and sloppy playoff opener and were soundly beaten on their home field by the Tennessee Titans, prompting questions this week about whether Harbaugh should play everyone to maintain the team’s momentum.

However, that’s not the path Harbaugh will take. Jackson will likely be joined on the sideline by quite a few other key Ravens on Saturday.

Required reading

  • In a league of offensive masterminds, Ravens OC Todd Monken stands out
  • NFL playoff picture after Week 17: Ravens, 49ers clinch top seeds; AFC, NFC East titles up for grabs
  • Ravens dominant (again) in win over Dolphins, earn chance to rewrite 2019 ending

(Photo: Rob Carr / Getty Images)

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