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Ravens’ Lamar Jackson feels ‘way, way ahead of where I was’ in OTAs; Marquise Brown misses practice vs. Eagles

Ravens’ Lamar Jackson feels ‘way, way ahead of where I was’ in OTAs; Marquise Brown misses practice vs. Eagles
The ball is snapped to Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson during a joint NFL football practice against the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) (Matt Rourke/AP)

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson started his two-day stay in Philadelphia asking for cheesesteak recommendations. He ended it with a press conference Tuesday afternoon, after the second of two joint practices against the Eagles.

In both cases, he left satisfied.

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After struggling with his execution in the red zone Monday, Jackson bounced back at the Novacare Complex. An interception he threw toward the end of practice surely left a worse aftertaste than the Oh Brother cheesesteak he got Sunday night, but Jackson was proud of the Ravens’ progress nonetheless.

“I felt my team came out here, and we got better each and every day,” he said. “We fought through the grind. … Guys just stepped it up. We did great today.”

It helped that the Ravens had one of their top receivers back. With first-round pick Marquise “Hollywood” Brown not dressed for practice and wide receiver Seth Roberts still out, rookie Miles Boykin returned after two straight days out with an undisclosed injury and picked up where he left off.

Jackson found the 6-foot-4 Boykin early for a leaping grab over two defenders early in practice, and that seemed to set the tone for wide receiver and quarterback alike. Afterward, Jackson lamented missing a fairly open Boykin on a deep ball, and the Notre Dame product couldn’t corral a pass near the goal line in the red zone. But it was an otherwise winning connection.

“You've seen him make great catches on the sideline,” Jackson said. “Lanky guy, got speed. He's explosive. He's going to be a great tool in this league.”

While the Ravens’ first-string offense worked more efficiently than the Eagles’ in 11-on-11 play, it was not perfect. It was also far from healthy. The starting offensive line featured just two players, center Matt Skura and right tackle Orlando Brown Jr., who are expected to be Week 1 starters, but the pass protection held up quite well.

One of the few times it didn’t, on a zone blitz inside, Jackson appeared to be “sacked.” But he threw it anyway, and Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry, dropping into coverage over the middle, stepped in front of the pass and picked it off.

A few plays later, Jackson gave the Ravens sideline something to holler about. As he rolled out to his right, he took off and cut back against the grain, bursting to his left. L.J. Fort was not prepared. The Philadelphia linebacker’s brain went where his body could not, and he fell to the ground. “Ooooohhh,” roared Jackson’s teammates. Even a few Eagles couldn’t contain themselves.

With Jackson’s final appearance of the preseason likely coming Thursday at Lincoln Financial Field, he reached a fairly obvious conclusion about his progress since last season: He’s grown “a lot.”

“Got in the playbook, learned as much as I can,” he said. “I got way, way ahead of where I was in [organized team activities]. … Dialed in, got my guys. Summer to now, it's been incredible, just working hard, getting after it. Just got better. Felt comfortable. Just doing good so far.”

Coming and going

Brown didn’t practice for the first time in over a week, which means he’ll likely have to wait another week to make his preseason debut. Ravens coaches have reiterated that they want to remain cautious in monitoring his recovery from offseason Lisfranc (foot) surgery.

Elsewhere on offense, the Ravens were missing Roberts and offensive linemen Marshal Yanda, Randin Crecelius, Greg Senat, Ronnie Stanley and Jermaine Eluemunor. Eluemunor was carted off the field midway through Monday’s practice, and Stanley had his left ankle wrapped. With the injuries up front, the Ravens started James Hurst at left tackle, Bradley Bozeman at left guard and Ben Powers at right guard.

Defensively, tackle Gerald Willis, inside linebackers Otaro Alaka and Chris Board (concussion), and cornerbacks Iman Marshall and Tavon Young (neck) were out. Middle linebacker Patrick Onwuasor left practice early, but he did not have an apparent injury. Outside linebacker Tyus Bowser was limited for part of practice.

Running backs Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon and linebackers Nicholas Grigsby and Shane Ray returned after missing Monday’s practice.

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“Nothing real concerning at this time,” coach John Harbaugh said of the team’s absentees. “As we know, it can change.”

Extra points

>> Ravens offensive lineman Isaiah Williams and Eagles defensive tackle Kevin Wilkins had a brief late-practice skirmish, including some punches thrown, while wrestling on the ground after a play. “No issues, really,” Harbaugh said of the practice. “You might have a little shoving match or talking going on here, but it was all kind of good fun, and I just felt like we got a lot of work done.”

>> Rookie defensive tackle Daylon Mack earned regular praise from the Ravens sideline for his disruptive work in 11-on-11 play. Inside linebacker Donald Payne, who was signed only Friday, also made some plays for the second straight day.

>> Rookie quarterback Trace McSorley struggled toward the end of practice, sailing a couple of throws over the heads of open receivers and throwing two interceptions, including one into double coverage deep downfield.

>> Former Eagles quarterback and ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, former Southern California long snapper and inspirational speaker Jake Olson, and U.S. women’s national soccer team star Carli Lloyd were among those who braved the heat to attend practice. Lloyd nailed a field goal with the help of long snapper Morgan Cox and holder Sam Koch.

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