Top four takeaways from the first training camp press conference of Ravens QB Lamar Jackson
Training camps across the league are officially underway as players are reporting to their respective teams including reigning league MVP and Baltimore Ravens franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson. He met with the media for the first press conference of his third training camp and second entering as the unquestioned full-time starter.
Here are the top four topics that he touched on minus his comments about Antonio Brown since they will be published in a separate and more detailed article:
Jackson is “the new bubble boy”-
The Ravens star quarterback has already gotten his results from his COVID-19 test that he took earlier this week. He tested negative for the virus and plans to keep it that way while the pandemic rages on around him. Jackson is not taking any unnecessary risks and is taking every precaution to stay healthy for his team and his own wellbeing.
“I don’t really deal with no one, outside of my guys here,” Jackson said. “I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job so far. The tests and everything, all the tests came back negative. I didn’t have any corona, not one tick in me. I think I’ve done a great job quarantining and I’m going to keep it that way.’
He even went as far as to anoint himself “the new bubble boy”. For those unfamiliar with the pop-culture reference, the first bubble boy was a fictional character in the 2001 motion picture starring American actor Jake Gyllenhaal who was played a young man that was born without an immune system had spent his entire life in a protective plastic bubble and travels across the country to stop the woman he loves from marrying some else, all while remaining in the confines of his bubble shield.
Jackson is the face of the franchise and the focal point of the Ravens offense that rewrote the team and league record books last season with their revolutionary offense. He is pleased with the way that the organization is implanting the health protocols and hopes that the upcoming season will be able to be played to its full duration.
“I feel here, what we have going on in this building, we’re doing a pretty good job,” Jackson said. “We’ve got our tickers on, making sure we’re all staying six feet apart. We’ve got our hand sanitizer; we’ve got our masks on throughout the building. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I hope we finish the season.”
Jackson is on the Hollywood breakout bandwagon-
Ravens speedy receiver Marquise Hollywood Brown has been picking up a lot of hype heading into his second season now that he is fully recovered from surgery that he had early on in the pre-draft process prior to his rookie season. Despite being held out for most of training camp last year and still rehabbing throughout his first season, Brown still managed to flash at times and show the kind of game-breaking playmaking ability that enticed the team into selecting him with the 25th overall pick in the 2019 Draft out of Oklahoma.
After recording 46 catches, 584 yards receiving and tying the franchise rookie record for receiving touchdowns with seven in 14 games while playing on just one good foot, Brown is being pegged as the Ravens player most likely to break out this season according to several pundits and analysts. Now that he is back to full health and added on some extra muscle to go allow with his blazing speed, he appears poised for a huge year in 2020.
Count his quarterback and closest friend on the team among those hopping on the Hollywood hype train.
“I feel like he’s going to have a huge jump, more than people may think,” Jackson said. “He was hurt last year, people didn’t know that, but he went out there and battled his tail off each and every game on a messed-up foot. Now his full potential is going to show this year I feel. He’s still young, but he’s going to show off. My job is to get the ball out quicker because he’s a lot faster with that foot 100 percent.”
Jackson loves the depth in the backfield but won’t be afraid to run the rock himself-
One of the most popular questions that Jackson, his coaches, and members of the front office have had to address this offseason have been pertaining to how involved he will be in the running game outside of handing the ball off to a stacked backfield loaded with talent at the running back position.
Jackson led the Ravens in rushing last year with 1,206 yards—sixth in the league and most in a single season by a quarterback—on 176 carries. He led the league in yards per carry with a staggering clip of nearly seven yards per tote and tied for the most runs of 20 or more yards in the league as well with 11 on the year.
His ability to gash teams on the ground with his legs is part of what makes him the most dangerous player in the league. While it’s been reported that the team will make a concerted effort to reduce his workload in the run game in terms of designed runs, Jackson said that he will still use his entire skillset to make and extend plays if a lane opens up or a play breaks down.
“We got great running backs,” Jackson said. “We got Mark Ingram, we’ve got Gus Edwards, we’ve got Justice Hill, we’ve got J.K. Dobbins. I feel like we’re going pretty good with the rushing part. But if I have to, a play breaks down, no one’s open, I do my thing.”
In his first season with the Ravens Ingram finished second on the team in rushing with 1,018 yards in 15 games and scored 15 touchdowns from scrimmage. Edwards has recorded back to back seasons of over 700 yards rushing despite not being the full-time starter over that span. Hill is a great change of pace back with good hands as a receiver out of the backfield and underrated power as a rusher. The Ravens swooped up the sliding Dobbins in the second round of this year’s draft out of Ohio State who has the potential to be an All-Pro.
Jackson is excited to work with rookie wideouts more-
The physical restrictions that the league has instituted due to the COVID-19 pandemic robbed rookies across the league the opportunities to get acclimated with their new teams and prevented first-year receivers from getting on the field with their quarterbacks in minicamps and OTAs (organized team activities). However, that didn’t stop Jackson from holding his own workout session with several of his targets, including the pair of rookie receivers that the Ravens picked up in the draft this year.
Both Devin Duvernay—third-round pick out of Texas—and James Proche—sixth-round pick out of SMU—flew to Jackson’s home state of Florida to get a jumpstart the chemistry building process and they made a good first impression on the reigning league MVP.
“(We) found a park in Hollywood, we just went out there and got our grind on,” Jackson said. “We had to build some type of chemistry before we go to training camp. We didn’t want to go into camp and be embarrassing ourselves. We got some work in. It wasn’t like I wanted it, because we weren’t able to do it as much as possible. (But) guys were looking pretty good out there.”
Jackson is looking forward to building up a better rapport with the two first-year wideouts in training camp once they get back on the gridiron and he believes they have the talent to overcome the adversity that has already rocked their rookie seasons before they even got fitted for their helmet and shoulder pads.
“I feel like they’re it,” Jackson said. “Devin, he’s a fast guy. James Proche, his route running, his hands are different. I can’t wait to see him with pads on.”