Sunday night could be a historic first for former Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley.
Or it might not be.
It’ll be up to a “game-time decision.”
The third-year Baltimore Ravens quarterback may get his first playoff start of his career, with the team’s star quarterback Lamar Jackson still recovering from a knee injury.
Head coach John Harbaugh declined to name a starting quarterback for Baltimore’s wild-card playoff game at the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday night (6:15 p.m. MST, NBC) but it will be between Huntley and rookie Anthony Brown, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, with Jackson officially ruled out.
Huntley, who starred at the University of Utah, has his own injury issues he’s working through and is listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report.
He has tendinitis in his right throwing shoulder and was limited in practice earlier this week, though he’s thrown at practice the last two days, Hensley reported.
“He looked good,” Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman told ESPN Thursday. “It’s day-to-day. He’s making progress. We take stock on it every day.”
He was inactive for the team’s Week 18 game against the Bengals, and Brown started at quarterback for the Ravens in the 27-16 loss.
Huntley told reporters Friday he’s estimating his shoulder is 90% or more healed.
“I’m feeling better, continue to progress,” he said. “... We’ll just see how we feel coming into these next couple of days.”
Huntley said he’s not feeling any nerves over the possibility of jumping into the starting lineup for the postseason, just excitement, and called it a “game-time decision” whether he’ll start.
“It’s just another opportunity to go play football, and I appreciate it,” he said.
Why is Lamar Jackson missing time?
Jackson has been out since spraining his left knee in a game against the Denver Broncos on Dec. 4.
On Thursday, the 2019 NFL MVP explained the severity of his injury on Twitter.
“Thank you everyone for your support and concerns regarding my injuries. I want to give you all an update as I am in the recovery process. I’ve suffered a PCL grade 2 sprain on the borderline of a strain 3,” Jackson tweeted.
“There is still inflammation surrounding my knee and my knee remains unstable. I’m still in good spirits, as I continue with treatments on the road to recovery. I wish I could be out there with my guys more than anything but I can’t give a 100% of myself to my guys and fans I’m still hopeful we still have a chance.”
Harbaugh told reporters Friday he can’t comment on the severity of Jackson’s injury, under privacy laws.
Does Tyler Huntley have playoff experience?
Huntley has played just once in the playoffs before. In the 2020 postseason as a rookie, he entered a 17-3 wild-card loss to Buffalo after Jackson left with an injury and completed 6 of 13 passes for 60 yards and had three carries for 32 yards in a quarter of action.
Huntley led a drive into the red zone that ultimately fizzled out after a failed fourth-down conversion inside the 10. Despite this, he completed 4 of 8 passes on that drive for 53 yards, including four straight completions.
How has Tyler Huntley done in relief of Lamar Jackson this season?
While Huntley helped lead the Ravens to a 2-2 record in his four starts near the end of the regular season, his passing numbers could use improvement.
Huntley has completed 67% of his passes for 658 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
His QB rating this season is 77.6, which would rate near the bottom of the league if he had enough qualifying pass attempts. He’s also thrown for under 140 yards in each of his four starts, though he threw for 187 yards in the win over Denver when Jackson was hurt early in that game.
Huntley has also run for 137 yards and one touchdown on 43 carries. His touchdown run — a 2-yarder — was the game-winner in the Ravens’ 10-9 victory over the Broncos on Dec. 4.
When was the last time a Utah Utes quarterback started an NFL playoff game?
The last time a former Utah quarterback started an NFL playoff game was during the 2017 season.
Alex Smith, then playing for the Kansas City Chiefs, completed 24 of 33 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns in the Chiefs’ 22-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Jan. 6, 2018, in the wild-round round.
Smith had a 3-4 record as a starting quarterback in the playoffs, over his 16-year NFL career.