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No word yet on Lamar Jackson’s status for Ravens’ preseason opener; sky-high praise for Mark Ingram

No word yet on Lamar Jackson’s status for Ravens’ preseason opener; sky-high praise for Mark Ingram
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson takes a break during a joint practice with the Jaguars. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun)

One year ago, when Lamar Jackson was not the Ravens’ starting quarterback, there was no doubt that the rookie would play in the preseason. It was a matter of when he would enter and how many series he would get.

In Jackson’s first game, he had 10 pass attempts. In his second, he had 18. During five weeks last August, he threw 68 times — more than he did over the regular season’s first 12 weeks.

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Now, with Jackson as the offense’s most indispensable weapon, the Ravens find themselves asking the same question they did for years with Joe Flacco: How many snaps are enough this early in the preseason?

Coach John Harbaugh said Tuesday that he hadn’t decided yet.

“We haven’t dialed it in exactly,” Harbaugh said after the second of two joint training camp practices against the Jacksonville Jaguars, whom the Ravens host Thursday night. “We have a meeting tonight on [the playing time for starters], where we’ll dial it in exactly. I have my ideas on it. I think I know, but we’ll talk about it as a staff and figure it out and get a plan together.”

Harbaugh acknowledged that Jackson's desire to play would factor into the staff's decision-making, but did not say to what degree. If recent history's any guide, he won't be out there for long.

Flacco didn't take a snap in the Ravens' preseason opener last season, then attempted just seven and nine passes, respectively, in the two games after that. The Ravens kept winning anyway, running their preseason streak to 13 games by the end of August.

Ravens running back Mark Ingram II is tackled as Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead IV, left, looks on during practice with the Jaguars at Ravens training camp.
Ravens running back Mark Ingram II is tackled as Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead IV, left, looks on during practice with the Jaguars at Ravens training camp. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)
Ingram a ‘complete’ RB

In his first meeting with reporters since the Ravens signed Mark Ingram, running backs coach Matt Weiss did not hold back in his praise for the former New Orleans Saints star.

“I love his versatility,” Weiss said. “I think he’s probably the most complete back in the NFL in terms of his ability to execute any run scheme, to pass-protect, to run routes out of the backfield, split him out and run routes. There’s not a play in football that you wouldn’t want to run with Mark.

“And I think you guys know this, too, but he’s a great person. We all know it’s not church camp. It’s pro football, but at the same time, character matters, and when your best players are great people, it makes the rest of your guys better, and I see that in our room.”

Ingram has lived up to expectations through the first two weeks of training camp, showing soft hands and smooth routes as a receiver, holding his ground as a blocker and running hard between the tackles.

He leads a position with a "lot of different skills," Weiss said.

“I see a group of future stars, with Gus [Edwards], ‘K.D.’ [Kenneth Dixon], De’Lance [Turner], Tyler [Ervin], Justice [Hill]. Everybody except for Justice has played in regular-season NFL games,” he said. “They’re guys who are capable of hitting second and third contracts.”

End zone

>> Harbaugh said the Ravens “got a lot done” at practice. “We get to go in there and watch some tape, and study it with the guys and try to get better.”

Jackson and tight end Mark Andrews had maybe the most impressive highlight he’ll watch. In an 11-on-11 red-zone drill, Jackson floated a ball to the middle of the end zone for Andrews, who jumped over linebacker Myles Jack for a tough catch. Jackson mostly avoided big plays and big mistakes until later in practice, when Jack intercepted a tipped pass intended for rookie wide receiver Miles Boykin.

Tight end Mark Andrews makes a catch during Ravens training camp.
Tight end Mark Andrews makes a catch during Ravens training camp. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

Defensively, rookie linebacker Otaro Alaka had the biggest play, recovering and returning a fumble about 25 yards for a touchdown after a botched handoff. Top cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphrey, meanwhile, both allowed long completions downfield.

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>> While tempers flared at times during a hot, muggy afternoon, the Ravens and Jaguars mostly played nice.

“It’s not all sunshine and roses,” Harbaugh said. “It’s competitive out there. … There were a couple of guys talking, on two plays, the whole practice. We pretty quickly pulled them apart. Nobody wants to be the first guy to walk away. I thought everybody kept their discipline very well.”

>> The New York Jets announced Tuesday that former Ravens guard Alex Lewis had passed his physical, completing the teams’ Monday trade. The Jets gave up a conditional seventh-round pick in next year’s draft for Lewis, who announced Monday morning that he’d been released. Before placing him on waivers, the Ravens found a trade partner in New York.

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