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Monday, July 4, 2022

Ravens QB Lamar Jackson takes the field for minicamp after months of contract speculation: ‘It got everyone excited’

Clouds didn’t part to reveal a heavenly chorus, but he was back – Lamar Jackson in the flesh, wearing his No. 8 jersey and sling passes from all angles to the Ravens practice area.

After months of chatter about contract extensions he hasn’t signed and voluntary workouts he hasn’t attended, Jackson returned Tuesday to his traditional place at the center of a team built around his unique talent.

He began the first season of the mandatory minicamp spinning a football on his fingers, propelling it through his legs like a point guard and then firing at blue, red and yellow goals in the end zone. He began practice 11-on-11 with a touchdown pass to his new No. 1 receiver, Rashod Bateman, and his over-the-middle connection with All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews was as fruitful as ever.

Veteran safety Tony Jefferson was the franchise quarterback’s main nemesis, trapping a wayward pass to the tight end of Josh Oliver and stepping in front of Bateman for a second interception. But Jackson completed 17 of 26 passes overall in the 11-on-11 setting and all 10 of his attempts in seven-on-seven drills. Crime operates in a more crisp way than crime during OTAs.

“He looked great,” Andrews said. “I think he’s extremely confident, and the more he’s driving the drama here, being with the people, he keeps getting better and better. He was in the huddle, commanding the huddle, the people. Was doing it right. He bowled a lot of great deliveries right outside the defender’s head.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh agreed: “He looked good and he was in it. He was in great shape physically. I thought his arm felt really good; you can see that a lot.” Throwing it. …It was great to get him out there. It just raised everyone’s spirits a little bit.”

Harbaugh felt no need to sit down for a lengthy conversation with Jackson when quarterback arrived. “Back to business,” he said. “We’re driving now, we’re merging, we’re rolling. Let’s go to work.”

Most Ravens players had not walked the football field with a healthy Jackson since the second quarter of the team’s Week 14 loss in Cleveland.

But the franchise quarterback has fueled endless rounds of speculation since he closed on a December afternoon, first with his apathy in extension talks, then with his social media reaction to the trade of No. 1 wide receiver Marquis “Hollywood” Brown. Along with and most recently with his decision to skip three weeks of voluntary OTA (exercises he participated in in previous years).

He expressed his annoyance from time to time again through social media, when pundits tried to cut his thinking, but he did not clarify his point of view on the underlying issues. At 25, he is set to play on his fifth-year substitute, which is worth $23 million, this season. Does he believe he is in a contract deadlock, as some media outlets have characterized it? Or is he “so obsessed with winning the Super Bowl” that a new contract isn’t on his front burner, as Ravens owner Steve Biscotti suggested in March?

Jackson was saying no. He filled the void by posting videos of his workouts with personal quarterback coach Adam DeDoux and personal trainers.

Harbaugh said he believed Jackson was working hard, but left it to the quarterback to explain why he didn’t join the team for the OTAs.

That answer will have to wait until Thursday, when Jackson is due to speak to Baltimore reporters for the first time since January.

But his arrival at the team’s facility sparked a buzz on Monday, with his physical head taking ESPN.com for much of the day and a brief video clip of him saying he would have more than 1,000 for the season. Ready to retweet.

It was a preview of the speculative limbo that could surround the Ravens this season and for many years to come if Jackson doesn’t sign an extension. His every move will be analysed, news or not. If he doesn’t answer questions about his condition, those questions will go to Harbagh and his companions.

“You block it,” Andrews said of the constant hubbub around his quarterback. “We’ve all been with the media for a long, long time, and there’s going to be some people out there, but you have to be able to stop things like that. We don’t see much outside.”

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey said he wondered how difficult it would be to walk in Jackson’s shoes, living in an eternal fish bowl.

“It’s probably not the fun of being ‘famous’ famous,” he said. “It’s just a different life when everything you do is seen in a positive or negative light, whether it’s [commentators] Shannon Sharp or Skip [Bayless] Or is this guy talking. I know I would get angry if I were in those shoes, but I think he handles it very well. ,

Humphrey said there is no connection between Jackson and his teammates as the contract sage plays in the background. “I think what’s really most important is the communication and coaching within people,” he said. “It sucks sometimes to be on social media and see headline after headline, when you know what’s going on, but you can’t really answer to everyone. But I think as long as the team knows where he is and the players know where he is — we’re communicating with him — I think it speaks for itself.

When Jackson wasn’t around, the Ravens talked about doing their best with the players, but there was no denying the power of his presence.

“Lamar, he’s the one who runs our team,” Andrews said. “She’s QB1, and with the energy around her being here, it elevates everyone.”


World Nation News Desk
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