Bonded by the 2018 NFL Draft, Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield will be opponents again on Sunday, but their rivalry has taken a different twist.
While Jackson is having another MVP-caliber season with the Ravens, Mayfield was traded to Carolina during the offseason after the Browns acquired Deshaun Watson.
Mayfield had some memorable battles against the Ravens during his four years with Cleveland, but now he's with his second team and his future is uncertain.
"I did think Baker would be a Brownie for life," Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. "It will be a little different seeing him in those colors. I thought the Lamar-Baker thing would be a long time. Him in the baby blue and whites, it's going to be different, but I'm sure he'll still be the same feisty Baker. If he throws one on you, he'll let you know."
Jackson and Mayfield have been linked since their college days, with Jackson winning the Heisman Trophy (2016) one year prior to Mayfield (2017). Both quarterbacks were drafted in the first round in 2018, but while Mayfield was the first-overall pick, Jackson had to wait until the 32nd pick before the Ravens traded up to get him.
Some players in Jackson's position would be extra motivated for Sunday's game, seeing a player drafted before them on the opposite sideline. However, Jackson said he has never taken that approach with Mayfield.
"I was motivated when it took forever for me to get drafted," Jackson said. "It doesn't really matter who went first."
Mayfield has often talked about his respect for Jackson, and the quarterbacks got to know each other as part of the Heisman fraternity. Speaking to the Carolina media this week, Mayfield recalled a conversation he had with Jackson's mother, Felicia Jones, that gave him insight into Jackson's competitive nature.
"His mom used to work him out," Mayfield said. "She told me stories. She told me to get my (butt) down to Florida to go work out with him. I politely declined after a few beverages at the Heisman ceremony. She's intimidating. There's a reason why he's so tough."
Mayfield said he expected Jackson to become a franchise quarterback that many teams wish they would have drafted.
"I'm not surprised at all what he's been able to do," Mayfield said. "He's capable of a lot of things. That guy's a freak of nature."
David Ojabo Could See His First Action Sunday
Rookie Outside Linebacker David Ojabo continued practicing with the team on Wednesday, ramping up for his possible season debut on Sunday. Ojabo has not played after suffering an Achilles injury at his Pro Day in March, but the second-round pick is getting closer, and his presence will make the Ravens' outside linebacker rotation even deeper.
"He's looking better and better out there, but again – and I put him in the same category with (rookie tight end) Charlie (Kolar) – they had nothing really stacked up until like two weeks ago," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "They both look really good. I think they could both play, and if we have an opportunity to put them out there, we will."
Roquan Smith Has Quickly Fit Into Culture
Pro Bowl inside linebacker Roquan Smith has played just one game with the Ravens, but it doesn't feel that way to him, or to his teammates. Smith is in the final year of his contract, and it remains to be seen if he will re-sign with Baltimore, but he is focused on the present.
"I'm living in the moment," Smith said. "I told myself that way back in the summertime after everything in Chicago. I was just more focused on the moment, enjoying my time, playing the game that I love. What's going to happen is going to happen."
Smith said fitting into the Ravens' culture has been seamless.
"It's just an organization that demands hard work from it's players, and their players bust their tails for the organization," Smith said. "I see that being around these guys. That's the type of guy I am, my pedigree. I feel like I fit right in."
Humphrey also said Smith coming to Baltimore was a natural fit.
"I already like how he's fitting himself into the culture," Humphrey said. "He's a cool guy. So, any time you've got a humble guy like that, it's going to be pretty easy to rock out with him."
Ravens Liked Panthers Wide Receiver D.J. Moore Before He Was Drafted
Panthers leading receiver D.J. Moore (39 catches, 478 yards, three touchdowns) was a player the Ravens' radar during the 2018 draft. Moore was selected by the Panthers with the 24th pick before the Ravens took tight end Hayden Hurst at No. 25.
Moore has had three straight 1,000-yard seasons. The former Maryland Terrapin is a player the Panthers chose to hold onto at the trade deadline.
"We loved D.J. Moore, and that was a guy we talked a lot about," Harbugh said. "He's thriving; he's one of the best receivers in football. He's a great route runner; he runs all the routes. He'll block, he runs the wide screens. He's kind of public enemy No. 1 along with [Laviska] Shenault [Jr.], so he's doing a great job."