Before returning to practice last Friday ahead of the Ravens' Week 5 matchup with Cincinnati, quarterback Lamar Jackson missed two straight regular season practices for the first time with what was called a "non-serious" knee injury.
The result: Jackson rushed past the line of scrimmage just twice against the Bengals defense, the least amount of carries in his young career as a starter. The previous low for Jackson's rush attempts since taking over Week 11 of the 2018 season for an injured Joe Flacco was Week 1 of last season - a 59-10 drubbing of the Dolphins.
Still, Jackson made sure he wasn't blaming any knocks for an apparent lack of mobility.
“(My knee) was alright," Jackson told media postgame. "It didn’t really affect me at all.”
Luckily for the Ravens, a less-mobile Jackson didn't hold back Baltimore's relentless defense in their 27-3 win to improve to 4-1. Against more talented and complete teams like the Chiefs, who handily defeated Baltimore in Week 3, the Ravens will need more dynamism that NFL fans have come accustomed to with Jackson's explosiveness.
This season, Jackson has reached double digit rush attempts just once in Week 2 against Houston. His most productive rushing game in 2020, though, came against Kansas City when he averaged 9.2 yards per carry. The following week, Jackson exploded for one of the highlights of his season with a career-long 50 yard touchdown against Washington.
Between then and this past Sunday, however, a knee injury may be the reason why Jackson stayed in the pocket. It possibly impacted his passing game as well, sporting the lowest quarterback rating since dropping an egg in the playoffs against the Titans last year. Throwing 19-for-37 for 180 yards, two TDs and an interception still get it done, but it wasn't at the impressive, dazzling level Jackson showed often during his unanimous MVP campaign in 2019.
He'll be aiming to get back on track during practice this week.
"I wish I could’ve been out there," said Jackson, who said a non-Covid-19 related illness also played a role in his missed practices. "But this week, it’s going to be totally different because I’m going to be out there every day. So, I’m going to be good.”
"Yes, I expect him to practice the whole week," coach John Harbaugh told media on Monday. "So, he should be good to go.”
With Jackson ready to return back to practice, it's not unlikely Jackson opts to remain in the pocket against an otherwise porous Philadelphia secondary. It's the same secondary that allowed Steelers rookie wideout Chase Claypool to score four touchdowns. With a similarly speedy wide receiver in Marquise "Hollywood" Brown for Jackson, Baltimore's offense could get back on the right track without such heavy reliance on their No. 1-rated defense in Week 6.