BALTIMORE — Michael Crabtree ran a short slant and, seeing off coverage, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson fired a pass his way for an easy touchdown.
Crabtree crossed the goal line without resistance, launched the ball skyward and moved two fingers across his facemask for a Kenny Powers salute.
While the Ravens most recent wins have come against a pair of struggling teams, it has put a focus on whether Harbaugh is willing to keep Jackson as his starter as Baltimore tries to stay relevant in the AFC playoff race. If Flacco gets the green light to practice this week, itll be interesting to see if Harbaugh will keep his former Super Bowl MVP on the sideline in favor of the rookie.
Raiders fans know the routine well. Crabtree did it regularly during three seasons in silver and black that resurrected his career. He scored 25 touchdowns for the Raiders as Derek Carrs favorite red-zone target.
Crabtree was cut this offseason after a disappointing 2017 season, where there was tension at times between him and Carr. He was let go so the Raiders could sign Jordy Nelson, and the Ravens quickly signed Crabtree to their squad.
Jackson was the 32nd pick in the first round, and the last of the 2018 rookie quarterbacks to start. As a Heisman winner at Louisville, he got the Cardinals into the end zone any way necessary, not unlike what weve seen in his two starts with Baltimore. While some NFL evaluators insisted Jackson should give up quarterback and be a receiver at this level (looking at you, Bill Polian), in recent years there are plenty of examples of successful quarterbacks who can both pass and run. There were two of them on the field in the same stadium on Sunday: the Carolina Panthers Cam Newton and Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson.
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Crabtree downplayed the revenge factor in Sundays meet-up, but he had to enjoy scoring against his former Raiders teammates in a 34-17 Ravens win at M&T Bank Stadium.
Flacco is a quite different style of quarterback than Jackson, but has had success in his time as the Ravens starter. With Baltimore not out the playoff picture – now 6-5 and in second place in the AFC North, the Ravens would get the second wildcard berth if the playoffs started after this week – the team might feel more comfortable going with the battle-tested option.
I feel the same as I would against anybody, Crabtree said. As a player, you cant get caught up in who youre playing.
I have nothing against the Raiders. As a matter of fact, I love the Raiders. I love them all. I love the guy upstairs, Mark Davis. I have nothing but love for him. Aint no bad blood between anybody. I just go out here and play ball.”
Crabtree was greeted by several former teammates after the game, showing several friendships remain intact despite his move to Baltimore.
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Theyre my friends. I do stuff with them in Dallas (for his free football camp) in the offseason. They show up, Crabtree said. Ex-players and guys who are playing there now. Its all love. Its a brotherhood. This isnt just football. This goes further than that. I appreciate them all.
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The Baltimore Ravens have been without quarterback Joe Flacco for the last two weeks. As he deals with a hip injury suffered against the Pittsburgh Steelers back in Week 9, Baltimore has turned to rookie Lamar Jackson to lead the offense.
Following a 34-17 victory over the Oakland Raiders in Week 12, coach John Harbaugh offered a little insight on the timeline for Flacco’s potential return.
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Whenever Flacco returns to practice, the storyline will obviously be the quarterback battle. With Jackson having won the last two games, there will be pressure to go with the hot player. However, because Baltimore in the playoff hunt, and because Jackson has three interceptions over the last two games, might help detract from the attractiveness of keeping him under center for the rest of this season.
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This will be just a taste of the quarterback situation heading into the offseason as Baltimore has to figure out what to do with Flacco long-term. Flacco is expected to count as $26.5 million against the cap in 2019 with only $16 million in dead money, according to Over The Cap. With the Ravens potentially entering a rebuild or retooling this offseason, having an extra $10.5 million could come in handy, especially if they’re able to trade Flacco to a quarterback-hungry franchise in exchange for draft selections.
The discussion will reach a fever pitch as early as this week if Flacco receives good news from the doctor and returns to practice. Harbaugh had noted earlier in the week Flacco would have to practice in order to have a shot at starting again. If Flacco misses any practice this week, the discussion will likely be postponed until the following week.
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