Lamar Jackson is not in attendance at the start of the Ravens' organized team activities, but his teammates expressed confidence that he's still working and will join the team soon.
Team OTAs are voluntary, but starting quarterbacks are traditionally in attendance because it's a key time to start building chemistry with the rest of the offense and installing the foundation of this year's system. In short, it's because they're the team's most important player.
After seeing highlights from the team's first OTA practice Tuesday, Jackson tweeted "Can't wait to get back."
Head Coach John Harbaugh did not offer an explanation or reaction to Jackson not being present.
"We've been down this road many times through the years," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "I'll just let Lamar speak for himself on that."
Jackson and the Ravens have had negotiations about a contract extension, but General Manager Eric DeCosta has been clear that they are working at Jackson's pace. Jackson has expressed that his focus is on winning a Super Bowl, not his contract.
A couple of Jackson's teammates, tight end Mark Andrews and cornerback Marlon Humphrey, were asked about the effect on the team of not having Jackson present. Andrews said it doesn't affect their preparation.
"I know Lamar. I've talked with him. I know how hard he's working," Andrews said. "I know he's extremely motivated, extremely hungry. So there's no worries over there.
"I know what he's doing and we're all working to do our job here and getting ready for him. We'll be ready to go and I'm confident that he'll be ready and show everybody what he's got and the type of hunger he has right now."
Humphrey said he expects an increase in attendance soon and said he spoke to Jackson earlier in the offseason and he said he would be coming.
"If it was training camp, it would be really bad. But I think as long as guys are working, no matter where they are, that's the key," Humphrey said. "We'll be really excited to get him out here."
Andrews is an established veteran with a huge contract extension that is coming off a massive season. He's the kind of veteran that isn't necessarily expected to be at voluntary OTAs. Yet he was attacking practice at full speed as always. Why did he choose to come?
"Because I love it," Andrews said. "I love football. I love this place. I love this organization. It means a lot to me. It's just about getting better. … Just being around the fellas, making that team camaraderie, that's what it's all about. And I think it starts now."
One of the best and highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL, Humphrey is coming off a season-ending torn pectoral injury but jumped back into action at the start of OTAs.
Humphrey said he understands that some players like to train elsewhere, but "nothing's better than practicing and training with the people you're going to be with all year" and that all the extra resources (such as nutritionists, mental health specialists, etc.) are available at the Under Armour Performance Center.
"For me, it's just getting back into the swing of things. And also, they pay me a decent amount of money, so I think I can show up," Humphrey said. "I think it's really important whether you do all of it, a little bit of it, I think it's really key to at least show up."