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Late for Work 8/1: Lamar Jackson Could Make NFL History … Again

QB Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson Could Make NFL History … Again

Since becoming a starter in 2018, Lamar Jackson has been no stranger to NFL history. From his first game with 27 rushing attempts to setting the NFL single season rushing record by a quarterback, Jackson is etched into the record books.

But now, he's primed for a record-setting season that involves both rushing and passing, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

"Entering his sixth NFL season, Jackson has a chance to redefine himself as well as the dual-threat quarterback roll," Hensley wrote. "With a new offensive coordinator in Todd Monken, and new players such as Flowers and Beckham, Jackson believes he will throw the ball more than ever, which could result in something no one has ever seen before. Jackson can become the first NFL player to throw for over 4,000 yards after rushing for more than 900 yards in a season."

Eclipsing 4,000 passing yards in a season would be a career first for Jackson; his current career high in the NFL is 3,127 yards in 2019, though he threw for 3,660 yards in 2017 at Louisville. So, what's going to get Jackson over the hump? According to Hensley, "it's about consistency."

"Over the last two seasons, he has failed to take the next step as a passer, throwing 33 touchdowns and 20 interceptions," Hensley wrote.

A part of why Jackson may not have passed for 4,000 yards or become the NFL's first to go 4,000 yards passing and 900 yards rushing is due to the Ravens' run-heavy offensive scheme and personnel. During the four seasons under Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman, the Ravens attempted the second-fewest passes in the NFL. The expectation is the Ravens will be passing more, simply by the change of coordinator and upgrades at wide receiver.

With the moves made surrounding Jackson and the franchise quarterback landing his franchise deal, it's no longer about the pending deal, but living up to it. A record-setting season would be quite a triumph.

Stock Up Players After Week 1

The first week of training camp is in the books for Baltimore and media members who have been in attendance each day shared their stock reports on players and takeaways. The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec listed a few players who have caught his attention over the first four days.

Tarik Black, WR

"When Black walked off the field during Thursday's practice, holding his lower back and flanked by trainers, it was hard to imagine he'd be able to improve his stock during the first week of training camp," Zrebiec wrote. "However, Black was back on the practice field the following day making plays downfield. Black, who spent much of the past two seasons on the Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets practice squads, has had a few catches in each practice. He'd still have to be considered a roster long shot, given what the Ravens have at the position, but he's doing his part to remain in the conversation. Baltimore could use size in its receiver room, and Black, who is 6-foot-3 and 217 pounds, provides that."

Isaiah Likely, TE

"Mark Andrews typically has no peer when it comes to the number of catches made in training camp practices," Zrebiec wrote. "Likely, though, had comparable production through the first week. The second-year tight end has shown good hands and good awareness. He's also playing with more confidence and self-assuredness than he did during his rookie season. He's largely been the forgotten man when it comes to discussions about Lamar Jackson's improved group of targets. It seems clear, though, that the Ravens want him more involved."

David Ojabo, OLB

"It's always tough and premature to evaluate pass rushers before the pads come on. We'll learn more about Ojabo in the weeks ahead," Zrebiec wrote. "But he does look fast and explosive, and beyond that, what's been so noticeable is just how hard the 2022 second-round pick is playing. At Saturday's stadium practice, he chased Jackson about 15 yards downfield. He's shown that kind of effort and hustle most every day. The Ravens' coaching staff is excited about the progress Ojabo has made."

The Baltimore Sun’s Brian Wacker was also complimentary of Ojabo and the pass rushing unit in his Week 1 observations.

"On Saturday, defensive tackle Michael Pierce beat rookie Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu on a play-action pass and got his hands on the throw. One play later, outside linebacker Odafe Oweh was there when Jackson ran a play-action bootleg," Wacker wrote. "Two plays later, defensive lineman Justin Madubuike and outside linebacker David Ojabo chased down Jackson on the outside."

Tyler Huntley Was Top 10 Last Season as a Quarterback When Pressured

Handling pressure is a required trait for NFL quarterbacks and backup quarterback Tyler Huntley, who has stepped up each of the past two seasons, has it in droves.

PFF’s Braxton Howard recently listed the NFL's top 10 quarterbacks in pressured passing grade and Huntley was named ahead of Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Tannehill, Brock Purdy and Tua Tagovailoa.

"Huntley appeared in six games while Lamar Jackson recovered from injury last season, and he weathered the storm as best he could," Howard wrote. "He faced 58 pressured dropbacks, the second-fewest among qualifying passers, and he went 21-of-37 for 247 yards. He posted just one big-time throw to one turnover-worthy play."

This might have something to do with the Ravens' boasting one of the NFL's best quarterback duos, according to Touchdownwire’s Natalie Miller.

"Backup quarterback Tyler Huntley has taken over eight games in the last two years for former MVP Lamar Jackson, and while he did not experience the elite levels of play that Jackson did, Huntley still proved to be a solid starter at the NFL level," Miller wrote. "This stack of quarterbacks is easily the most athletic duo in the league, and has proven to be a nightmare to defend for NFL teams. If Jackson ever goes down, Huntley can be relied on to win a handful of games until he can return."

PFF Names Trenton Simpson Ravens' Rookie With the 'Most to Gain from Training Camp'

There's a chance linebacker Patrick Queen prices himself out of Baltimore with another solid year. If so, PFF’s Ben Cooper sees rookie linebacker Trenton Simpson as next man up, but it starts with training camp.

"That brings us to Trenton Simpson, whose versatility will be an asset in Year 1 before it becomes apparent if Queen has priced himself out of Baltimore, if the Ravens have simply chosen to move on or if it makes sense for the team to re-sign him," Cooper wrote.

The best way for Simpson to show his value? According to Cooper, it's demonstrating he can be a linebacker capable of pass coverage.

"In coverage last season, Simpson tied for 18th in catch rate allowed among 199 qualifying Power Five linebackers," Cooper wrote. "Training camp will be his first opportunity to show he belongs on the field in a modern linebacker role."

Quick Hits

· PFF’s Dalton Wasserman has Beckham as the Ravens' "X-factor" among the predicted starting unit, writing, "Having had a full season to recover from a torn ACL suffered in Super Bowl 56, Beckham looks to become the first true No. 1 receiving threat for Lamar Jackson. That being said, the 30-year-old Beckham hasn't had a 100-yard receiving game since Week 6 of 2019, so it's fair to wonder if his best years are behind him."

· Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox predicts Roquan Smith will lead the NFL in tackles this season, writing, "With a full offseason in coordinator Mike Macdonald's system, Smith should be even more productive than he was in his first nine games with the Ravens (86 tackles). … After finishing in the top six in combined tackles each of the past three seasons – and watching [Foyesade] Oluokun take the crown in each of the past two – Smith will break through and finally take his place at the top."

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