News & Notes 5/23: Lamar Jackson Learning New Offense and New Names –

News & Notes 5/23: Lamar Jackson Learning New Offense and New Names -

Lamar Jackson says he didnt know Ravens were installing new offense

One goal for Lamar Jackson during Organized Team Activities (OTAs) is to build relationships and on-field chemistry, as he tries to master a new system being installed by Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman.

Its a work in progress that will continue throughout the summer. Not only is Jackson learning new plays, he is working with many new players.

Both wide receivers the Ravens drafted were sidelined by injury during Thursdays practice – Marquise Hollywood Brown (foot) and Miles Boykin (hamstring). That left Jackson working with some players he recognized easily, and some he didnt.

“I’d say my first day, I sucked,” Jackson said, via the team’s website. “Second day, I did better. Today was alright, but it could have been better. I always try to be perfect in practice. It was alright for the first week.”

Not all the rookies, Jackson said, when asked about knowing names. Hopefully Ill get it sooner or later. Every time were here, were working, so we dont have time to chit-chat. But it would be best for me to know all the rookies names.

Jackson admitted as much when he spoke to reporters on Thursday and said that he needs “to focus on everything” as long as the offense remains a work in progress. Jackson believes that it is very much a work in progress right now.

Quincy Adeboyejo, Chris Moore, and undrafted rookie Antoine Wesley were among the wide receivers who made nice grabs during Thursdays practice. Asked which receivers stood out to him in practice, Jackson mentioned a few, before he smiled struggling to remember names.

But a returning receiver stole the show Thursday with Chris Moore making several impressive leaping catches during the third Organized Team Activity (OTA) practice. Hes fast, extremely smooth and has great hands.

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Jordan Lasley, Jaleel Scott, hes been stepping up, Jackson said. Weve got a lot of rookies, I wish I knew their names. I dont just want to say jersey numbers.

In March, former Ravens wide receiver John Brown (now with the Buffalo Bills) called Moore the teams best receiver. Whether thats the case remains to be seen, but Moore is off to a good start.

Jackson is excited about the offensive possibilities and pleased the Ravens selected Brown and Boykin, two young receivers he can grow with.

I wish I was on stage with him, with Marquise, Jackson said. I was just happy we had new guys coming in. Speed.

Floyd is participating in Organized Team Activities (OTAs) this week after signing a one-year deal last Friday, and knows hell have to earn his way onto the roster. Willie Snead IV is the Ravens top returning receiver, Chris Moore is a reliable backup who also contributes on special teams, and the Ravens drafted two wide receivers, Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin. That still leaves plenty of receivers vying for roles, including Floyd, Seth Roberts, Jordan Lasley, Jaleel Scott, Quincy Adeboyejo, and undrafted free agents Joe Horn Jr. and Jaylen Smith.

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Inside linebacker Patrick Peanut Onwuasor is being counted on heavily after Pro Bowl linebacker C.J. Mosleys departure to the New York Jets. Coming off his best season, Onwuasor could be designated as the defensive player wearing the microphoned helmet, relaying defensive signals to teammates. Onwuasor was very vocal during Thursdays practice, and Head Coach John Harbaugh loved hearing it. 

The Ravens have added speed to their wide receiver corps, particularly with the addition of Brown. However, there remains a place for physical wide receivers in the offense being installed by Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman. Harbaugh alluded to that during the NFL Owners Meetings when he said, Youre not going to be a certain type of wide receiver and want to come play in Baltimore. We have not received phone calls from some guys. Thats OK. I dont want to hear from those guys. We want rough guys. We want tough guys.

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Hes taking charge, Harbaugh said. We always say a good defense is a loud defense. We want to communicate on the highest possible level, even to a much-exaggerated level, because we want to make sure were on the same page. Our whole defense has done that, I think as an A, A-plus type of grade.

Playing with him, you have to be on your toes all the time, Floyd said. Hes got legs on him that God gave him. Hes going to throw you open. Just because youre covered for three seconds, he might slip out of the pocket and give you another four seconds. As a wide receiver, thats something that you like. I also know we want to run the ball and be physical. Receivers want to catch touchdowns, but I also want to be physical.

There has been speculation that the Ravens, who had the NFLs No. 1-ranked defense last season, will not be as good in 2019 due to the losses of Mosley, safety Eric Weddle, linebackers Terrell Suggs and ZaDarius Smith and defensive end Brent Urban. The Ravens disagree, and Harbaugh says many players are embracing the challenge.

While OTAs are voluntary, it’s usually better to see full attendance and everyone on the field getting in some early training. This time during OTAs is when players can get closer to game shape ahead of training camp. Considering the Ravens have been wracked with injuries in recent years, it would be nice to see more of the veterans at practice. However, some absences could be down to rehabilitating previous injuries.

I think its really fun to see what the next generation is going to do and who theyre going to be and whos going to make a name for themselves, Harbaugh said. Really, one of the things you do as a coaching staff and a scouting staff is build competition in there. Our defense is running to the ball, so all those guys are doing a good job.

One of the Ravens key offseason acquisitions was running back Mark Ingram, who spent eight seasons as part of a prolific offense with the New Orleans Saints. Ingram knows Baltimores offense will be dramatically different than the Saints offense led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees. However, Ingram believes Baltimores offense will also be difficult to stop, just in a different way. 

According to Hensley, Baltimore was missing eight starters in linebacker Matthew Judon, safeties Earl Thomas and Tony Jefferson, defensive linemen Michael Pierce and Brandon Williams, cornerback Jimmy Smith, and offensive guards Marshal Yanda and Alex Lewis. Luke Jones of WNST noted Jefferson was on the sideline in street clothes, however.

Ingram, who moved well during Thursdays practice, making quick cuts and finding creases during Thursdays workout, isnt worried about those who might be skeptical.

The Ravens replaced Marty Mornhinweg with Greg Roman as their offensive coordinator in January. Roman was the San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator from 2011-14 and the coordinator in Buffalo from 2015-16. He has some experience working with mobile quarterbacks, with Colin Kaepernick having served as the 49ers quarterback from 2012-14.

People say a lot of stuff, Ingram said. People are always talking, and people who dont really know much, I would say. Always saying something, always throwing their opinion out there, but Im excited to be a part of this offense, Im excited to be running next to Lamar, running behind this offensive line and watching this defense play when were on the sideline, and being a part of a championship organization. Im excited about it, and I believe in us. I think were going to do great things, so people can say what they want, but were coming.

Safety Tony Jefferson, who had offseason ankle surgery, and safety Earl Thomas, who broke his leg last season, were among those who did not practice Thursday.

Others who did not participate in Thursdays voluntary workout included running back Kenneth Dixon, offensive linemen Alex Lewis and Marshal Yanda, defensive tackles Michael Pierce and Brandon Williams, linebacker Matthew Judon, and cornerback Jimmy Smith. Undrafted rookie defensive tackle Gerald Willis was also not present.

The Baltimore Ravens spent a lot of time this offseason talking about revamping their offense. From discussions around taking more shots at wide receivers to completely rebuilding the offense from the ground up, the focus was on improving what has been a rather anemic offense.

Jacksons development as a thrower is one of the biggest storylines of the Ravens offseason. The general consensus after Thursday's practice open to the media was that Jackson had a pretty strong day. He completed a bunch of passes at every level, had nice zip on his throws and found running back Gus Edwards in a tight window for a "game-winning" touchdown at the end of practice.

But apparently no one told quarterback Lamar Jackson about it. Following the third day of OTAs for the Ravens, Jackson told reporters he learned the team had installed a new offense when he got back to Baltimore.

While Jackson has spent the offseason working on his mechanics in Florida, Baltimore has been investing quite a bit of time on creating a scheme that benefits their passer.

The Ravens relieved offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg of his duties shortly following their wild-card loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, promoting Greg Roman to the role. In several interviews following that, Roman talked about how he was rebuilding the offense completely instead of trying to retrofit things to an existing system.

It’s what Baltimore really needed to do in order to maximize Jackson’s talents and take a step forward into a more modern style of offense. However, the idea no one informed the guy that’ll be touching the ball on every play is alarming.

“Coming in, I didn’t know we would have a totally new offense,” Jackson told reporters.

While the NFL has strict rules about teams contacting their players in the offseason, it’s beyond rare to see a starting quarterback not know about those changes by OTAs. It would be one thing if Jackson didn’t have access to the playbook beforehand, but not knowing the offense was going to change at all puts everyone behind the 8-ball.

The Ravens only have 10 OTA practices before mandatory minicamp begins on June 11 and training camp begins in July. With Baltimore’s first preseason game coming on Aug. 8, that doesn’t leave them much time to completely install a new offense to all of their players. Considering Jackson had spent the offseason working on his mechanics to become a better passer, throwing a whole new playbook at him suddenly isn’t going to do his development any favors. Jackson would continue by saying learning a new offense has “been getting to me a little bit.”

Hopefully, the Ravens can get Jackson and the rest of the offense up to speed quickly. But the reality is, Baltimore might not have their full offensive playbook truly installed by the time the regular season begins. For an offense looking to completely change themselves overnight, that’s not a great way to start.

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