Lamar Jackson got a glimpse of the future Thursday during the final mandatory minicamp practice. After trading places with Joe Flacco earlier in the practice, the rookie took the lead for most of the remaining drills.
“It’s a synopsis of the whole deal,” said quarterbacks coach James Urban, in his first year with the Ravens. “There were some very good plays and some he’d probably like to take back.”
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg spoke with coach John Harbaugh earlier in the week, proposing giving Jackson the reins and seeing how the future starter would handle it. Jackson did not appear to be overmatched.
“Just putting him out there today, putting the pressure on him to have him run the whole practice, operate the offense was valuable,” Harbaugh said.
The rookie focused on trying different pages of the Ravens’ playbook, connecting with receivers and practicing play-calling — something Jackson has improved on and is thrilled to say so.
“I feel wonderful. Every day I’ve learned something,” he said, adding, “I don’t want to grade myself. I’ve been pretty good.”
Though his smaller stature caused him to blend into the pocket during each play, every eye of his teammates were glued to him. Jackson has already left an impression during the three-day training sessions. On Tuesday, wide receiver Chris Moore expressed his “awe” of the young quarterback and Thursday, Willie Snead IV called him a “crazy athlete.”
“Once he gets it, you’ll see something special,” he said.
Jackson’s still not sure he’s worthy of their praise yet.
“Just to come from college and have veteran guys look at you like that, it’s amazing,” Jackson said. “A lot of guys aren’t getting looked at like that, and I appreciate that, but I got to keep grinding.”
Flacco, who will watch Jackson’s growth the most, said the rookie is quickly finding footing on the Ravens’ field.
“He’s doing a good job of learning, but he does a really good job of just naturally hanging in there and having his eyes down the field and finding the open guy,” Flacco said. “He’s gradually getting better at speeding everything up, but he doesn’t make mistakes.”
While the Ravens will spend the summer keeping in shape and catching a break before training camp in July, Jackson will find it difficult to keep his thoughts and presence away from football. He’ll invest in watching film, lifting weights and just “keep grinding.”
“I can’t get away,” he said.
Luckily for Jackson, Harbaugh and his staff will keep in touch with the rookie over the coming weeks, working to refine his technique and familiarity with the way the Ravens operate.
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“I’ve seen his ability to talk our language and verbiage, and throwing mechanics have improved,” Urban said. “We’re heading in the right direction. There’s much much to improve.”