Is Lamar Jackson Ready to Start? He Believes So, And Says It Would Be 'Awesome'

If Lamar Jackson is going to make his first NFL start on Sunday, he's certainly not acting like it's any big deal.

Cool and confident, as always, Jackson fielded more than a dozen questions Wednesday about his preparedness, development and nerves. The most emotion he showed was saying it would be "awesome" to start.

"I'm prepared each and every day, going through my reps each and every day," Jackson said. "It's not different. No difference at all."

Jackson said it's the coaches' decision on who would play Sunday – whether it's Flacco if his hip feels well enough, veteran backup Robert Griffin III or himself. If it's him, Jackson said, "I'd be very prepared," but did admit he'd be a tad nervous.

"I feel I would [be nervous] at first if I'm out there," Jackson admitted. "But after the ball is snapped, it's on."

So is he ready?

Jackson's effect as an occasional change-of-pace runner and decoy has been positive so far this season. He has the second-most rushing yards (139) on the team and his 5.0 yards per carry is 1.3 yards better than top running back Alex Collins.

But starting a game would be a much different assignment, presumably requiring a lot more throwing. Jackson has attempted just 12 passes in nine games so far this season, completing seven for 87 yards and a touchdown.

The last time Jackson started a game was in the preseason finale, when he showed his gradual improvement over the five preseason games. He finished the preseason with a 50 percent completion rate and 77.3 quarterback rating with three touchdowns and one interception.

He had already come a long way from the rookie who threw a fair number of wobbly passes and had a lot of difficulty calling the plays in practice when he first arrived. And since then, he's made more and more progress behind the scenes. Jackson said his greatest improvements have been in calling plays, and he explained his early accuracy issues.

"My balls were horrible," Jackson said. "I was throwing a lot of ducks. I was getting accustomed to that ball, that's all. It's different from college to the NFL pigskin."

Head Coach John Harbaugh, and Quarterbacks Coach James Urban last week, both said Jackson has made a lot of improvement in throwing the ball and being more consistent with his mechanics. He's become more comfortable in the scheme and reading defenses.

"Tremendous development," Harbaugh said. "He's working every day, right through training camp, right through the season, at practice, and then extra after practice, meetings. [He's a] very diligent, very smart, very aware quarterback. I think he sees the game well, and … in practice, he looks good."

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey added that Jackson is even faster on the field than what he expected after watching the college highlights and stressed that the toughest part of a cornerback's job is when a quarterback scrambles and extends plays. Jackson would bring a different element, and challenge, to opposing defenses.

"The thing that people don't really see as much is that he can throw the football pretty well – especially when he scrambles and things like that," Humphrey said.

Wide receiver Willie Snead IV said Jackson has more confidence in the scheme and in what he's seeing on the field. He has gained a better feel for his teammates, developed a rapport and trust.

"He's just being a ballplayer now," Snead said. "I think once he has the scheme and everything around him under wraps, then you'll see the playmaker come out of him. It's exciting to see."

Jackson is the only first-round rookie quarterback who has yet to make a start, following the Browns' Baker Mayfield, Jets' Sam Darnold, Bills' Josh Allen and Cardinals' Josh Rosen. Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, said he can sense Baltimore's eagerness to see what he can do.

"I feel something," Jackson said. "People are saying stuff on their [social media] pictures. I'd be excited too."

More important than fans' excitement (no offense) would be the trust of Jackson's teammates. Asked whether he felt he had it, Jackson said "absolutely."

"[Marshal] Yanda would have said something already [if I didn't]," Jackson added. "You have to have trust with your guys, your guys believing in you, to put points on the board. That would be my job if I'm out there."

Jackson's teammates also aren't tipping their hand on who could be under center. And they, of course, expressed confidence in whoever it is. But there was a sense of intrigue about the possibility of the explosive, playmaking former rookie getting a shot.

"If Joe's in there, we're ready with Joe. You've seen what we can do with Joe," Snead IV said. "And if Lamar's in there, everybody is ready to see what Lamar can do."

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