Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has said he hopes to improve on his 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player form by throwing with greater consistency to deep and outside targets.
So far, so good. Jackson delivered one of his most precise passing practices in three seasons as a Raven on Tuesday, with only about a quarter of his throws falling incomplete in seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills. He connected with rookie wide receiver Devin Duvernay for a deep strike and found Willie Snead IV on a beautiful throw down the sideline after he rolled to his left.
“We’re doing a lot better than we were last year, especially on deep passes,” he said. “I got it to the receivers in stride with the passes. We’ve just got to keep going, keep building.”
He admiringly described rookie wide receivers Duvernay and James Proche as “workaholics.”
But Jackson was typically self-critical, noting that the offense lost the day’s practice overall after triumphing on Monday. He said he counts on this back and forth, spurred by players such as seven-time Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas III, to sharpen him for the season.
“I’m very competitive,” Jackson said. “It’s just like we’re playing another team without us tackling each other.”
Respect from the ‘D’
From the moment he seized the starting quarterback job two years ago, Jackson engendered unusual respect among players on the other side of the ball. That defensive admiration society has only expanded as he’s grown into the face of the team.
“He attacks the game the right way, man. It means something to him,” Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters said. “You can see a difference in somebody when the game means something to you. A lot of quarterbacks around this league, I’m sorry to say it, but they’re getting paid just to play football because of where they came from or they got a great connection. But you don’t find too many quarterbacks who love to play the game like him. The ones who do love to play the game like him, you see what they do. They go out there and put a product on the field that’s remarkable.”
A day earlier, outside linebacker Matthew Judon corrected a reporter who referred to him as the team’s franchise guy (because he was assigned the franchise tag in the offseason).
“Let’s not get this wrong, we all know who’s the guy here. That’s No. 8,” Judon said. “I got franchise tagged; I’m not the franchise guy. We all know who that is, and that’s the MVP.”
Baltimore Ravens Insider Newsletter
Want the inside scoop on the Ravens? Become a Ravens Insider and you'll have access to news, notes and analysis from The Sun.
Rarely in franchise history has the Ravens roster seemed so united behind a single figure, and Jackson said he feels the power of that respect.
“I appreciate that coming from my peers, especially,” he said. “Because we grind so hard together, and our goal is to win championships. For guys to look at me, and me being so young, to be the franchise guy, I appreciate that.”
Bryant ‘up to front office’
Jackson offered a muted reaction when asked about the possibility of wide receiver Dez Bryant joining the Ravens after the team brought him in for a workout on Tuesday.
“We’ve got a lot of great receivers here right now,” he said. “It’s up to the front office.”
He has taken a peek at the former Dallas Cowboys star as he works toward playing in the NFL for the first time since 2017.
“I see Dez Bryant on Instagram, running his routes and competing against cornerbacks, and he looks pretty good on social media,” Jackson said. “If the front office likes him, we’ll have to see when he gets here.”
Nose tackle Brandon Williams returned to action Tuesday after missing the team’s first padded practice the day before. Outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson and wide receiver Chris Moore (broken finger) were the only members of the 80-man roster not to participate Tuesday.
After second-year wide receiver Miles Boykin delivered a standout practice, coach John Harbaugh said: “The same thing you’re seeing, we’re seeing. He’s got a mindset where he wants to dominate at the catch point. That’s something he’s taken very personally.”
In addition to Bryant, the Ravens worked out yet another returner: Dwayne Harris, a Pro Bowl player in 2016. He went on injured reserve last year with an ankle injury. The Ravens also worked out Monmouth quarterback Kenji Bahar and former Raiders punter Johnny Townsend.