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