Lamar Jackson Reportedly Expected to Attend OTAs this week
Lamar Jackson was absent for the start of OTAs yesterday but is expected to attend the practices at some point this week, according to ESPN.
That's encouraging news for a team that is installing a new offense under Todd Monken and has new receivers in veterans Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor, and first-round pick Zay Flowers.
"Yes, these workouts are voluntary, but the live reps are valuable for a player who will be operating an entirely new offense and has missed a lot of practices and games in recent years," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "It takes time to develop a relationship with a new play caller and a new group of targets.
"The most important factor is that Jackson is healthy and ready to go in late July when training camp begins. But seeing Jackson on the field over the next four weeks building momentum and gaining chemistry with new Ravens players and coaches would certainly ease some angst heading into camp."
Teams can conduct 10 noncontact OTA practices over a three-week span. Three-day, mandatory minicamp begins June 13.
When General Manager Eric DeCosta was asked about Jackson's attendance at OTAs during a recent appearance on “The Adam Jones Podcast,” he said: "Our offseason program is not a mandatory program, so it's up to the player. We can make our feelings known. I think Lamar knows we'd like him here, but that's going to be up to the player.
"It is collectively bargained [so] players have the rights to do what they want to do. We support Lamar. We do think it's best for all of our players to be here. We do have a new offensive coordinator. I think it's really, really important that our offense is on the same page. And I'm confident that we'll be on the same page by the time September rolls around."
Jackson was last at the facility on May 4 when he signed a five-year, $260 million contract extension, but Monken said a couple weeks ago that he is in "constant communication" with the quarterback and knows he "is working hard."
DeAndre Hopkins: It Would Be an Honor to Play With Lamar
In the leadup to the draft, speculation that the Ravens were trading for DeAndre Hopkins was running rampant, but the star wide receiver is still with the Arizona Cardinals and doesn't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.
However, that doesn't mean Hopkins wouldn't welcome the opportunity to play with Jackson in Baltimore at some point.
During an appearance on the “I AM ATHLETE” podcast, Hopkins was asked for his reaction to Jackson saying that he had asked team officials if it was possible for the Ravens to acquire him.
"I love Lamar Jackson," Hopkins said. "Lamar Jackson's one of my favorite athletes since I've been watching sports. I'm a sports fan, so I was watching Lamar when he played Clemson, my alumni, and I was like, 'Who is this kid?' I've been a fan of Lamar for a long time. Obviously, he's one of the greats. I would be lying to sit here and say it wouldn't be an honor one day, if my career allows me to play that long, to play with a great guy and a great quarterback like Lamar."
In addition to Jackson, Hopkins named the Bills' Josh Allen, Eagles' Jalen Hurts, Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes, and Chargers' Justin Herbert as quarterbacks he'd love to have throwing him the ball.
Hopkins also was asked what he seeks in an organization.
"Great management, a QB who loves the game, and a great defense," he said.
Chris Simms: Ravens Are 'Damn Close' to Being Threat to Dethrone Chiefs
The Chiefs are favored to repeat as Super Bowl champions, with the Bills and Bengals largely regarded as Kansas City's biggest challengers in the AFC. NBC Sports’ Chris Simms said the Ravens should be included in the conversation.
"How close are the Ravens to being a legit threat to the Chiefs? I think they're damn close," Simms said. "When we go through the exercise where we have to pick a Super Bowl winner in August, I'm gonna go, 'This is one of the short-list teams that I think can be there or go to the Super Bowl.'
"I'm a believer in the Ravens and what they are. Defense has got talent. They've got some young guys coming up the pipeline. They've got a scheme on that side that's creative and keeps them in every game, and then we know the offense now, the O-line was good, Lamar's good, the running backs being healthy, and we've got some weapons at receiver here with a new offense. I think the Ravens could be one of the top teams in the AFC, I really do."
Mike Florio agreed with Simms that the Ravens are an under-the-radar threat to upset the AFC hierarchy.
"It's a great spot psychologically for the Ravens to be in because who's really looking at the Ravens as a serious threat?" Florio said. "It's Bengals, Bills, Chiefs, [or] Chiefs, Bills, Bengals, whatever order you want to put them in, and everybody else. The Ravens are the top team out of the everybody else that could infiltrate that trio that we assume the Super Bowl team is coming from one of those three."
Ravens Ranked Among Top 10 Most Complete Teams
NFL.com’s Eric Edholm ranked the top 10 most complete teams based on talent, depth and fewest remaining question marks, and the Ravens came in at No. 7.
Edholm noted that much of the optimism for the Ravens this season is based on the offensive makeover, but he said the defense "still might have a few boxes to check."
"The biggest could be at corner, where there's Marlon Humphrey and a lot of question marks," Edholm wrote. "Who is the other outside starter? Who is the slot? Signing Rock Ya-Sin helps, and the Ravens could always bring back Marcus Peters or Kyle Fuller, but more is needed, I believe.
"They could be set at defensive tackle with Justin Madubuike, Broderick Washington, Michael Pierce and Travis Jones as the top four, but one more body would be nice. Off the edge, there's still hope of either Odafe Oweh or David Ojabo (or both) emerging alongside Tyus Bowser, but perhaps they will be open to a Justin Houston type of addition before camp."