Lamar Jackson feels fully healthy, and he’s had enough of playing only against his Ravens teammates.
“I just can’t wait until we get out there on the field, because I’m really tired of practicing, going against our guys,” Jackson said Wednesday.
The reigning NFL Most Valuable Player downplayed a groin injury that caused him to miss two straight practices during training camp.
“I was just getting a little maintenance,” he said. “It wasn’t really anything major at all. I’m good now. I was good the day I sat out of practice, but they just wanted me to keep it safe, stay in the safe zone because the season’s coming up. But I’m 100[%] right now.”
Jackson expects his receiving corps, featuring rookies Devin Duvernay and James Proche and a fully healed Marquise Brown, to “hit the field running” despite the absence of preseason game reps. He underestimated Brown’s enhanced speed during a recent practice and underthrew his favorite deep target, leading to an interception.
“I feel we’re right on schedule with everyone coming together,” he said. “Our offense is flying around and moving around great. Our defense is making plays out there. I just can’t wait until the real games come.”
Brown agreed, saying of Jackson: “You can tell he’s more comfortable. He’s reacting to things quicker. He’s getting the ball out quicker. The timing is better with the receivers. Just getting out there on the same page, you can see how calm he is and how much more mature he is.”
Jackson holds out hope that if the NFL can continue to keep COVID-19 numbers low among players and staff members, fans might be allowed back in M&T Bank Stadium later in the season.
“We all want fans in the stadium,” he said. “We want our fans to give us that momentum to get out there and take the field by storm.”
Social justice support
Jackson praised Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti for supporting players as they speak out against racism and in support of police reform.
The Ravens released a statement last week calling for seven specific actions, including the arrests of officers responsible for the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin and the killing of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, to promote racial justice.
“I’m just happy we have a great owner who’s on our side, a great coaching staff that’s on our side,” Jackson said. “I know I see a lot of policemen who are cool to us football players but then to someone else, our kind, who’s not a football player, who’s not known, they treat them differently. So for our staff and stuff like that to be behind us 100%, I loved it.”
On Thursday, the NFL and its players association announced further initiatives to promote social justice, including a plan to close team facilities on Tuesday, Nov. 3 so “that every member of the NFL family has an opportunity to exercise the precious right to vote.”
John Harbaugh said that will be a work-from-home day for Ravens coaches as they prepare to face the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 8.
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“I’ve always voted and I’ve always worked on Tuesday, because it’s always been in November and we’ve always had games,” he said. “I don’t see it as a problem. The NFL wants to make it a priority, so we respect that.”
- Asked if he’s had a chance to test his speed against Duvernay, Brown said: “I don’t race for free.”
- Harbaugh said the Ravens will not consider traveling on game day to face nearby opponents, a measure some teams have discussed to limit potential exposure to COVID-19.
- When Jackson was asked to give a favorite Super Bowl memory, he pointed to the Ravens’ nail-biting victory over the San Francisco 49ers in 2013 (he was 16 at the time). “I wanted the Ravens to win before I was a Raven,” he said.
- Four Ravens did not practice Thursday: cornerback Jimmy Smith, defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, wide receiver Chris Moore and tight end Eli Wolf. Three players returned after missing time with injuries: cornerbacks Anthony Averett and Josh Nurse and running back Kenjon Barner.