DeSean Jackson's interest in signing with the Ravens was enhanced by the presence of Lamar Jackson, and his likeness to another quarterback Jackson had much success with.
"I've been keeping my eye on Lamar for a little while now," DeSean Jackson said after his first practice with the Ravens as a member of the practice squad. "I see a lot of characteristics similar to Michael Vick. He beat some of his records so obviously he's the new era of Michael Vick. Being able to play with Michael Vick, being able to come and play with Lamar, it's a blessing for me. I'm very excited about that."
During four seasons when Vick was the starting quarterback in Philadelphia (2010-13), DeSean was the primary deep threat and had two 1,000-yard seasons.
After Wednesday's practice ended, DeSean and Lamar remained on the practice field engaged in conversation, trying to accelerate the process of getting to know each other. While this is DeSean's 15th NFL season, every team's offense has its own personality and the quicker he learns the playbook and establishes a rapport with his quarterback, the faster DeSean can make an impact.
"In practice we had a couple of routes I talked to him about and kind of envisioned what I see," DeSean said. "I had a great feeling of how he looks at it. We can talk about things and when we get out there Sunday, if it's this Sunday, we'll be able to be on the same page."
Asked if he could possibly get himself up to speed in time to play Sunday against the Browns, DeSean didn't rule it out.
"Football shape is a little different," DeSean said. "(But) I've been doing this a long time. Everything I've been doing as got me in great shape. Being a veteran guy, being able to play for a few teams in my career, it's not my first rodeo."
Whenever DeSean is ready to play, Lamar said he will look forward to targeting him. He thinks the speedy wide receiver is still capable of delivering big plays.
"He looked like the DeSean when he first got to the league, got introduced to the league," Lamar said. "[He's] still floating around, running great routes. I'm excited."
Harbaugh Expects James Proche to Play Much More
Top wide receiver Rashod Bateman returned to the field and the Ravens just signed veteran wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Andy Isabella to the practice squad.
Even while Bateman was out, James Proche II only had four offensive snaps last week against the New York Giants. He had 18 (28%) the week before versus the Bengals.
So what does all this mean for Proche II?
"I wouldn't overthink that. The new rules in the NFL give you an opportunity to really be creative with your practice roster, so that's it. You bring guys in, you give them an opportunity, see how they do, you build them into what you're trying to do and see if there's a future," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
"Specifically to James Proche, he's a guy that we have a lot of high hopes for. I think James Proche is going to step up in the next few weeks, and you're going to see him make some plays. We were in some bigger personnel groups last week. The team we were playing – the Giants – that was a bigger team and we felt like we wanted to match big for big a little bit in certain situations. So, that group wasn't on the field as much. ... He's going to be playing a lot more in the future, and he's going to be making plays for us. I have no problem with James Proche."
Justin Madubuike Is Finding His Groove
Third-year defensive tackle Justin Madubuike was a bright spot in Sunday's loss to the Giants, playing 69% of the defensive snaps and leading Baltimore's defensive linemen with five tackles and a sack. Harbaugh said Madubuike is taking his game to another level.
"He's actually going to be a game captain [this week]," Harbaugh said. "It's his first time as a game captain. He's playing at a high level [with] flashes of dominance, really. [He is] quick, twitchy, explosive, very physical [and] really coming into his own."
Teammates like Calais Campbell and Michael Pierce have said Madubuike has potential to be a Pro Bowl player. He appreciates their confidence, but he vows to keep working.
"I talked to Calais about it, and he said when people are patting me on the back and stuff like that, it's easy for you to get complacent," Madubuike said. "You have to always keep working, always keep it in the back of your head. That's what I've taken into account for myself – just not getting satisfied [and] always trying to find a way to get better, every single day."
Rookie Tight End Charlie Kolar Has Strong First Day of Practice
Fourth-round pick Charlie Kolar was thrilled to be practicing Wednesday – his first time on the field with his teammates since undergoing sports hernia surgery this summer.
Kolar will add even more depth to the tight end room once he's healthy enough to play, and Harbaugh got a kick out of the rookie's enthusiasm.
"He was excited," Harbaugh said. "He got the word yesterday that he was going to get a chance. Everyone was really happy for him. They wanted to give him a cake or something. He had a good day today, so I think he's going to be fine. We'll see. I'm excited. I would expect in three weeks – by then at least, maybe sooner – he should be out there."