OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh goes to great lengths to keep injuries in-house, even fining players if they reveal too much on social media.
This time, however, Harbaugh said he's "appreciative" of the reports detailing Joe Flacco's hip injury and the starting quarterback's uncertain availability for Sunday's critical game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"It makes it tougher for the Bengals to prepare," Harbaugh said. "That’s a good thing."
The Ravens (4-5) are going into what is essentially a must-win game against the Bengals (5-4), and it's understandable that Harbaugh is going to use anything to his advantage.
Few teams have more differing styles in their quarterbacks room. Flacco is a pure dropback player. Lamar Jackson is a mobile playmaker who excels outside the pocket. And Robert Griffin III, who could be an option, is somewhere in the middle of how Flacco and Jackson play.
The longer the Ravens can keep this quarterback mystery going, the more time the Bengals have to split up their practice time in defending each quarterback. This just adds to the workload of the NFL's worst-ranked defense and Marvin Lewis, who is now the coordinator after firing Teryl Austin on Monday.
The Ravens won't have to put out an injury report until Wednesday, when the players take the field for their first full practice of the week. Harbaugh made it sound like he wasn't pretending to be coy.
"I don’t know who’s going to play," Harbaugh said. "We’ll prepare all the [quarterbacks] to whatever degree we think we need to, in terms of what the plan is."
Will Flacco be a game-time decision on Sunday?
"That’s right," Harbaugh said. "We’ll see."
Flacco hurt his right hip on the sixth play of the Ravens’ last game, getting hit from behind by Steelers defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt. According to Harbaugh, Flacco injured his hip when he landed awkwardly on his knee. He didn’t miss any plays and said after the game that the injury didn’t affect him.
Flacco, 33, is in the middle of another frustrating season, throwing 12 touchdowns and six interceptions for an 84.2 passer rating, which ranks No. 27 in the NFL. During Baltimore’s three-game losing streak, Flacco has totaled three touchdowns and two interceptions while averaging 225.6 yards per game.
Despite these struggles, Harbaugh made it clear that the decision at starting quarterback is based on the health of Flacco.
"If Joe can play, he’ll play," Harbaugh said. "And he’s rehabbing to play. Joe does not have to practice to play. He’s practiced the whole season. He’s practiced for 11 years. But he might practice."
A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he believes Flacco could play if the Super Bowl was next week. In many ways, this is a make-or-break game for Baltimore.
A win could make the Ravens a favorite for the No. 6 and final playoff seed in the AFC. A loss could make them a long shot to make the postseason.
"We're in the hunt, just like everyone else," Harbaugh said. "We'd love to be one of the one-loss teams. That would be great. That would be fun. One of these days, we will be once again. But we're not right now. We're with the rest of the pack. It will be determined over the course of the next seven games who's going to make the playoffs."