OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Will Robert Griffin III make his first start in 686 days?
The drama-filled week for the Ravens at quarterback took another unexpected twist Thursday afternoon when Lamar Jackson was surprisingly absent from practice due to an illness. A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the rookie first-round pick has a stomach issue.
This further clouds Baltimore’s situation because Joe Flacco remains sidelined with a right hip issue. Flacco walked through the Ravens’ locker room Thursday without a limp, and coach John Harbaugh has said Flacco doesn’t need to practice to play.
The ailments to Flacco and Jackson have left Griffin as the last quarterback standing. It was believed that Baltimore kept Griffin on the roster all season because he gave the team an experienced option if Flacco went down with an injury.
Griffin, 28, was out of the NFL last season and hasn’t started a game since the 2016 season finale, when he was with the Cleveland Browns. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft has a 15-25 career record as a starter.
“I know there’s a lot of uncertainty about who’s going to be playing, starting at quarterback – but that doesn’t change the mindset that I’ve had the whole entire season, [which is] to be ready when they call my number,” Griffin said Wednesday. “I’ll be ready.”
Harbaugh, who has indicated that the uncertainty at quarterback works in Baltimore’s favor, said Griffin could be an option to start when he discussed Flacco’s injury on Monday.
After being out of the NFL last season, Griffin joined the Ravens on a one-year, $1.1 million deal. He was decisive and efficient in four preseason games, which included two starts. Griffin was 27-of-41 passing (65.9 percent), throwing for 243 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
“We played against ‘R.G.’ a couple of times. We defended him,” Harbaugh said. “We saw him from that perspective, but when you see a guy on your own team, you gain kind of a whole new appreciation, and he’s a pro, a very talented player. I’m just very happy with what he’s done so far.”
The Ravens have also not ruled out Flacco, who has missed six games in his 11-year career. He has never played a game after not practicing all week, but offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg expressed confidence that Flacco can do it.
“He has experience, he’s a smart guy, he knows how to prepare – all of those things,” Mornhinweg said. “I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t play really well without any practice.”
Losers of three straight games, the Ravens (4-5) have a lot riding on Sunday’s game against the Bengals. A win would increase their projected playoff chances to 43 percent, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index. A loss would plummet the chances to 7.7 percent.