Quarterback Lamar Jackson was the center of attention at the Ravens’ mandatory minicamp last week.
It was the first time Jackson practiced with the team after missing the last four games of the 2021 regular season and skipping the recent voluntary workouts.
The Ravens are trying to reach a long-term contract extension with Jackson and that has dominated the headlines.
On the field, Jackson looked poised and was able to control the offense, which looked much better with him behind center. He had more zip on his passes and was able to throw tight spirals around the field.
In short, Jackson did not have any ill effects from the layoff. In fact, he looked better as a quarterback.
“Lamar has been here three days – that’s all it’s been – and it didn’t feel like you had a lack of chemistry,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Now, there were things – and he and I talked about it on the field – communication things, cadence things, some of the new offensive stuff. That’s not stuff he was here for to immerse himself into in the OTAs [organized team activities]. That’s the only thing, and that’s something we easily make up in training camp. But as far as the throwing and the catching and the targeting and all that, and what you’re saying – the playmaking stuff – I was happy to see that. And I was wondering about it; how’s he going to look? To see it look that good, to see the shape he was in, how well he threw the ball, that was all … For a coach, that’s exciting.”
— Russell St. Report (@RussellStReport) June 17, 2022
Jackson only played in 12 games last season because of an illness and the ankle injury he suffered in the second game against the Cleveland Browns. He completed 246 of 382 passes for 2,882 yards and 16 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
He was also sacked a career-high 38 times.
Jackson did confirm he was discussing a new contract with the team this week. However, he did not get into any other details.
Jackson will make $23.02 million playing under his fifth-year option this season and reiterated his stance that he wants to remain with the Ravens.
He said the contract situation was not the reason he skipped the OTAs.
“I just wanted stay away and just grind. I just wanted to come back and just see how I felt,” Jackson said. “I feel good. I asked my guys how they would feel if I stayed home; they were like, ‘It’s cool.’ I want to get some chemistry there, and they told me they want to get some chemistry. I’m like, ‘Man, we’re going to get that, regardless, when we get back.’ And when I first started offseason, back in February, James Proche II and ‘Bate’ [Rashod Bateman] were out in California with me, and we were just hitting. We were just throwing passes, completing passes. We were looking pretty good, so I was like, ‘The chemistry is going to be there when I get there for camp.’ So, I was good – just trying to grind.”
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) June 15, 2022
Jackson is determined to bounce back from last year’s disappointing, injury-plagued year. The Ravens boosted the offensive line again this offseason with the addition of veteran Morgan Moses and rookie first-round pick Tyler Linderbaum. The team also expects Ronnie Stanley to return from an ankle injury.
But the team’s success still hinges on Jackson’s performance.
“Lamar works tremendously hard,” quarterback coach James Urban said. “That hasn’t changed. My opinion of that hasn’t changed. What I see from what he’s done hasn’t changed a bit. He works very, very hard. It’s very important to him, and there’s no question about that.
“The fundamentals look really good right now. He’s been impressive these three days. He’s clearly been throwing; he’s clearly been working. The strength sure doesn’t hurt that. The velocity, the tight spirals, those things, they look good.”