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Ravens coach John Harbaugh: Playoff berth won't impact when Lamar Jackson returns

The Ravens have booked their ticket to the postseason, and the next step is getting their starting quarterback back on the field.

Head coach John Harbaugh said Saturday that the timeline for when Lamar Jackson could return is still in flux, with no decisions being made yet.

"When the player and the docs come back and say, 'Hey, it's time,' then (as) coaches, we build him into the game plan," Harbaugh said after Saturday's 17-9 win over the Falcons. "That's really how (it works). To think about it beyond that is just kind of a waste of energy and time."

Jackson is now ending his third week of recovery after suffering a PCL sprain in Baltimore's Week 13 win over the Broncos on Dec. 4. So far Jackson has not returned to practice, but NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Saturday morning that Jackson is on track to test out his football-related movements this week to determine whether he can return to practice, and therefore to games.

Rapoport added that the Ravens could be more cautious with Jackson's recovery or might choose to have him play sooner depending on their status in the playoff race.

Now, with Saturday's games confirming that Baltimore will be in the postseason (the Ravens remain one game behind the Bengals in the AFC North), the questions now turn to when Jackson will return for the Ravens, especially if there's not much to play for in the last two weeks of the regular season.

Harbaugh, who was informed of his team's clinched playoff berth during his postgame press conference, was asked whether it affects the way they'll approach Jackson's return. Harbaugh said that they were not at all considering playoff seeding in determining when the QB will return, just when he's healthy enough to take the field.

"I haven't thought about that; players play when they're healthy and ready to go; that's really all we do," Harbaugh said.

While Jackson has rehabbed, backup QB Tyler Huntley has taken the reins, leading the Ravens to a 2-1 record in relief. Huntley was solid in Saturday's win over Atlanta, going 9-of-17 for 115 yards and one touchdown. For now, until Jackson can come back, Harbaugh said he will continue to focus on developing and supporting the quarterback he does have healthy.

"Lamar is working very hard to get back. The trainers are working very hard to get him back," Harbaugh said. "I'm optimistic in so many ways, but focused on our team and the next game plan with who we have, really."

The Ravens will next host the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17 on New Year's Day.

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