BALTIMORE (AP) — The last time the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts met, it was a prime-time showcase for Lamar Jackson and Jonathan Taylor.
Only one of those two stars is available this week when the teams face each other again.
For a while, Jackson's contract dispute with the Ravens was one of the NFL's biggest offseason stories, but once Baltimore and its quarterback resolved that with a new five-year deal, the Colts and Taylor took center stage. Indianapolis didn't agree on a contract with its standout running back, and Taylor — who had offseason ankle surgery — began the season on the physically unable to perform list.
The Colts (1-1) also enter Sunday's matchup at Baltimore (2-0) with uncertainty at quarterback after rookie Anthony Richardson went into the concussion protocol. Gardner Minshew replaced him in a win over Houston last week.
"That's what you sign up for, you know?" Minshew said. "Happy to get out there and be able to help the team any chance you can and we'll see how this week goes."
In their most recent meeting in 2021, the Ravens rallied from a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Colts 31-25 in overtime. Taylor scored on a 76-yard reception and a 4-yard run, but Indianapolis ultimately lost thanks to one of the greatest performances of Jackson's career. The Baltimore quarterback threw for 442 yards and four touchdowns.
"Whatever happened that night is with that night," Jackson said. "I'm focused on what's going to happen Sunday."
If Richardson clears the concussion protocol, the 21-year-old rookie is likely to get the starting nod for coach Shane Steichen. If not, Minshew will probably make his 25th career start — extending his streak to starting at least one game in all five of his seasons.
Richardson left last week's game after taking a hit on a touchdown run and then banging his head on the turf in Houston. Minshew finished the game, going 19 of 23 for 171 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and no sacks. But because Richardson and Minshew are so different stylistically, it's forced the Colts to work overtime on a game plan.
"You've got to balance it," Steichen said. "You've got to go through the plan, get them both ready to play and then you go from there. There's a lot of communication, a lot of conversations with the staff and myself on how to go about it."
AT THE LINE
Baltimore's offensive line struggled in a season-opening win over Houston and was without center Tyler Linderbaum (ankle) and tackle Ronnie Stanley (knee) in Week 2. But the protection actually looked pretty good in a win over Cincinnati last weekend.
Now the Ravens are up against an Indianapolis team that had an NFL-high 17 tackles for loss in its first two games.
"That's the No. 1 issue for sure. That front is outstanding," Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. "The two tackles are two of the best in the league. (DeForest) Buckner — obviously (a) pedigree guy, slippery guy, long, plays hard and all that kind of stuff and then (Grover) Stewart."
A year ago, the Colts finished last in the NFL in turnover margin at minus-13.
So far this year, even with a rookie quarterback, the numbers look dramatically better. Indy sits near the middle of the league with a net-zero margin — three takeaways, three giveaways — and has surrendered just four sacks with two coming on consecutive plays against Jacksonville.
Sunday's game, though, presents a different challenge — especially for an offense that could be playing with two young starters, center Wesley French and right guard Will Fries.
"Baltimore has always been a challenge on defense, that is absolutely still true," Colts offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said. "Those guys are playing really good football, obviously winning football this year so far. We've got our work cut out for us but that's what they pay us for."
The Ravens lost running back J.K. Dobbins for the season when he went down with a torn Achilles tendon in the opener. Now Justice Hill is dealing with foot problems and missed practice time this week.
That left Gus Edwards and fullback Patrick Ricard as the only healthy running back options on the 53-man roster, with Melvin Gordon III and Kenyan Drake on the practice squad.
The Ravens have allowed only 23 yards and no first downs in the first quarter this season. Part of that is because their offense has moved the ball well and controlled it for 21:10 in those opening periods.
"We're just starting fast, communicating and playing fast, trusting each other and just playing football," linebacker Patrick Queen said. "That's what we come out here and do every day at practice."
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