Thursday was training camp for the Baltimore Ravens at the team’s training facility in Owings Mills, Maryland. The first day of practice featured a long, ambitious day with many veteran Ravens still at home. A key part of the team’s offseason trade for quarterback Joe Flacco was the release of Alex Collins, and even after training camp opened, some players — including Flacco — are staying away from practice and hitting the road.
While Flacco remains away from training camp and the team’s upcoming preseason game at the Philadelphia Eagles, rookie Lamar Jackson led the offense and his first offensive series of the day against a strong Eagles defense.
According to John Eisenberg, the National Sports Anchor for ESPN, Jackson did not run through his progressions in the plan that head coach John Harbaugh laid out to him. While Jackson has extensive experience running his own pro offense as a Louisville Tiger, playing in the NFL requires a whole different level of intelligence. Having just seven days to prepare for a preseason game would be a bit misleading for a rookie quarterback, but sticking to that basic plan shouldn’t be.
Harbaugh did say that Jackson would have a new offensive coordinator in his second week of training camp, something he will have to get accustomed to, but at this point he’s got enough pressure on his plate to worry about keeping his head above water and not burning out as a starter. Harbaugh has already said that Jackson will be a starter by the start of the regular season, and running behind a makeshift offensive line against an NFL front four in a preseason game that wasn’t even true when training camp opened on Monday will only add to the pressure.
Despite all the praise he’s received from pundits and the media, Jackson has only even been around Flacco on the practice field. He has yet to go up against defensive linemen and linebackers, which he is very familiar with from the College Football Playoff game last season when he shredded opposing defensive players in very similar fashion.
Jackson has had success running the option in the past, but recently defenses are set to blitz him even more than before. This plays right into Jackson’s strengths, the ability to do things that the Ravens’ coaching staff will never be able to teach him, but it plays right into the Patriots’ and Bengals’ strong defensive fronts.
Although you have to take the young QB-to-quarterback action of training camp with a grain of salt, so far this training camp, as evidenced by Thursday’s practice, Jackson has excelled in each and every drill he’s taken part in. Most notably, he completed pass to his tight end (if you count it as a receiver) in a tight window on his first snap. That appears to have started a trend.
With a new offensive coordinator coming onto the scene, Jackson is under some strain with the offense. He’s a huge addition to the roster, and if he isn’t able to better the Eagles’ pass rush, we could be seeing him behind a broken offensive line for much longer than expected.