Jackson-Rodgers QB matchup threatened by injury concerns

National Sports

BALTIMORE (AP) — The last time Baltimore faced Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers didn’t play and the Packers were shut out.

That’s the type of scenario the Ravens are hoping to avoid this weekend.

Now it’s Lamar Jackson whose health is in question. The Baltimore star left last weekend’s loss at Cleveland with a sprained ankle, and he missed practice time this week. Rodgers has had his own issues to deal with, but he’s been able to play through an injured toe.

Jackson’s situation has been more uncertain. The Ravens host Green Bay on Sunday.

“I think it could go down to the wire,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Thursday about Jackson’s availability.

Jackson already missed one game this season because he was sick, and the Ravens (8-5) won that one with backup Tyler Huntley. Baltimore nearly rallied to beat Cleveland last weekend with Huntley but lost 24-22. That was the second straight defeat for the Ravens, whose position atop the AFC North looks increasingly tenuous.

This would be quite a clash this weekend if both quarterbacks were fully healthy, but that’s not looking all that likely. Rodgers hasn’t practiced much since injuring his toe last month.

The injury hasn’t hampered his production. The reigning MVP has thrown 10 touchdown passes without an interception over his last three games.

“Well, as Allen Iverson once famously talked about practice, maybe there’s some other things involved in preparation,” Rodgers said. “I’ve always been somebody that enjoys the practice environment and the competition at practice. I love competing in any situation. And I enjoy certain parts about Wednesdays and Thursdays and Fridays especially, depending on what the install is. But there’s a routine to it and helps you feel comfortable going into the game.

“Because of the situation with my toe, obviously I’ve had to come up with a different routine that’s worked for me to get me in the right headspace to play well on game day.”

The last time the Packers faced Baltimore, Rodgers had a broken collarbone and replacement Brett Hundley threw three interceptions.

Green Bay (10-3) can clinch the NFC North with a win this week or a Minnesota loss.

FORCING TURNOVERS

The Packers have forced three turnovers in each of their last two games, and they have won each of the last 11 regular-season games in which they’ve had at least three takeaways.

Rasul Douglas is the first Packer since Hall of Famer Herb Adderley in 1965 to score on interception returns in two straight games.

Baltimore is at minus-9 on the season in the turnover department.

STUCK IN NEUTRAL

Baltimore’s offense looked good early in the season, with Jackson playing at a high level and the running game still OK after preseason injuries to J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. It’s been a different story lately.

The Ravens have reached 20 points only twice in the past seven games. They haven’t scored a first-quarter touchdown in any of those.

“As an offense, we know we’ve got to put up points,” Baltimore receiver Rashod Bateman said. “Every offense, that’s your job — is to put up points. We’ve just got to come out here on this field, execute it, take it over on Sundays and do it. So, hopefully we can do that and come out on top Sunday.”

SPECIAL TEAMS STRUGGLES

Green Bay’s special teams units are trying to bounce back after a brutal performance against the Bears last weekend.

Chicago’s Jakeem Grant was the NFC special teams player of the week after scoring on a 97-yard punt return and setting up a field goal with a 34-yard return.

A muffed punt return by Amari Rodgers would have given Chicago the ball at Green Bay’s 20-yard line if a Bears penalty hadn’t wiped it out. The Packers started a first-quarter possession at their 5-yard line when Malik Taylor mishandled a kickoff that probably would have gone out of bounds. Chicago also recovered an onside kick.

Green Bay’s special teams issues proved costly in a 13-7 loss at Kansas City earlier this season.

FAMILY CONNECTION

Amari Rodgers is the son of Ravens wide receivers coach Tee Martin, who quarterbacked the University of Tennessee’s 1998 national championship team.

INJURIES

In addition to the quarterbacks, both teams have other health concerns. The Packers put defensive lineman Kenny Clark on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The Ravens did the same with safety Chuck Clark.

For Baltimore, receiver Marquise Brown (illness), defensive tackle Calais Campbell (thigh), offensive lineman Tyre Phillips (illness), guard Ben Powers (foot), fullback Patrick Ricard (back/knee) and tackle Alejandro Villanueva (knee) missed practice time this week.

Green Bay tackle Billy Turner injured his left knee last weekend against Chicago. Tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) hasn’t played all season but practiced on a limited basis this week.

Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister

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