Baltimore Ravens rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson recalls his bond with Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield start when both were 2016 Heisman Trophy candidates. (Kevin Richardson)
When then-Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson won the 2016 Heisman Trophy, he defeated a field that included Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, who finished third in the voting.
Fast forward two years later, and Jackson and the Ravens will welcome Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns to M&T Bank Stadium for Sunday’s regular-season finale. Jackson, who was the final pick of the first round of this year’s NFL draft, said his relationship with Mayfield, the first selection, began during the Heisman ceremonies two years ago.
“We pretty much had a bond from there,” Jackson said before Wednesday afternoon’s practice. “He came to my room after I won and stuff like that, and the next year [when Mayfield won and Jackson finished third], we had that bond again. So yeah, it’s been pretty cool, just the draft process and so on.”
Jackson has completed 85 of 146 passes for 1,022 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions. More importantly, he is 5-1 as a starter since replacing Joe Flacco after the veteran sustained a right hip injury Nov. 4 in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Mayfield has connected on 287 of 444 attempts for 3,349 yards, 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Despite a 6-6 record as a starter, Mayfield has helped guide Cleveland to five wins in its past six games.
Ravens rookie tight end Mark Andrews, who played with Mayfield when they were Sooners, said both Mayfield and Jackson have a knack for inspiring their teammates.
“Guys like that, they have a certain thing about them,” Andrews said. “The ‘It’ factor, I call it. They’re someone you want to be around. There’s something about them that makes people gravitate toward them, and they both have that, and I think that speaks a lot to who they are and what they’re all about.”
On Sunday, Jackson and Mayfield will meet as adversaries. But since they will not be directly competing against one another, Jackson said he does not feel like there’s a personal battle between the two.
“He’s just playing the part for his team,” he said. “He’s just doing his thing, and I just do mine. We all want to win at the end of the day though.”
No practice for three starters
The Ravens opened their week of preparation for Sunday without three starters in wide receiver John Brown, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and right guard Marshal Yanda. Brown and Suggs dealt with hamstring injuries, while Yanda enjoyed a day off as a veteran.
On Christmas eve, outside linebacker Matthew Judon wrote via Twitter, “All I want for Christmas is a full house at M&T this Sunday,” and his sentiment was retweeted by teammates such as Tony Jefferson,Eric Weddle and Marlon Humphrey.
All I want for Christmas is a full house at M&T this Sunday
“Like I said many times, I think we have great fans, and they’re always into it when we’re there and excited and fired up and enthusiastic and all that,” Harbaugh said. “So we’re looking forward to it. I’m just looking forward to it, and I’m looking forward to the stadium being great and fired up and into it. Certainly the players feed off of that. It’s something that really matters. We’ve been in some great environments at home, and we’ve been in some great environments on the road this year. So yeah, it would be something that we’re looking forward to.”
» Harbaugh has had to oversee a quarterback transition from Flacco to Jackson. he’s also had to endure questions about his coaching future before Friday’s announcement that he would return for the 2019 season and that the organization is working with him on another extension. But Harbaugh said this year has been the same as previous ones.
» Ravens inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday. He had a team-high nine tackles, including two sacks, and forced the game-clinching fumble that was returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s win over the Los Angeles Chargers.