The Baltimore Ravens’ focus this offseason has been on improving their passing game, with the central tenet being to build a more robust receiving corps around young quarterback Lamar Jackson. To that end, they signed Sammy Watkins in free agency, and then used first- and fourth-round picks on Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace.
The first leg of the training camp journey, however, will have to come without the fourth-year arm, as Jackson has tested positive for COVID-19. This is the second time that he has tested positive, having previously done so in November last year.
It caused him to miss the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Bonus Thanksgiving, also known as the Wednesday after the Thanksgiving Day game was originally scheduled to be play. The Ravens, predictably, lost. Jackson did say that he experienced some symptoms at that time, including a loss of his sense of taste and smell, and said that he “wouldn’t wish it on anybody”.
He is one of two Ravens placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, joined by veteran running back Gus Edwards, who also tested positive. It was previously announced that Edwards would have to spent at least 10 days on the list, which implies that he is not vaccinated.
A vaccinated individual is eligible to return from the Reserve/COVID-19 List as soon as he tests negative twice at least 24 hours apart. For unvaccinated players, the same protocols as last season remain in place, requiring at least 10 days on the list. Vaccinated individuals who contract the virus tend to have a lower viral load, making them less likely to spread the virus, based on data from earlier strains, though the Delta variant is complicating the matter.
According to WBALTV 11 News, Jackson is not vaccinated, which means that he, too, will have to miss at least 10 days, making his earliest return date August 6. Yet he and Edwards, according to head coach John Harbaugh, make up a very small outlier on the team.
He told reporters yesterday that he believes the roster is about 90% vaccinated or higher, which means no more than nine players. Two of those nine (or fewer) have tested positive within the first week of training camp.
Harbaugh is also not surprised that Jackson was able to be infected with the coronavirus a second time. “You can obviously get COVID and then get it again”, he told reporters. “That’s kind of been demonstrated”.
Notably, British swimmer Tom Dean just won a gold medal during the Japan Olympics. He was also infected twice over the course of a 12-month period. I contracted COVID twice in the last 12 months. Sitting in my flat in isolation, an Olympic gold was a million miles away”, he said.
Jackson and Edwards were two of 24 players around the league placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List yesterday. It should not be surprising that training camp intake has marked the highest positivity rating of the NFL calendar; in fact, it is predictable, and was also the case last season. Around half of the league’s teams have at least one player on the Reserve/COVID-19 List; the Steelers are not among them.