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Late for Work: The Great Weight Debate Surrounding Lamar Jackson Rages On

QB Lamar Jackson
QB Lamar Jackson

The Great Weight Debate Surrounding Lamar Jackson Rages On

Lamar Jackson's leaner physique continues to be a hot topic, with pundits weighing in on whether a skinnier Jackson is a good thing or not.

Jackson said this week that he doesn't know exactly how much weight he's lost, but he revealed last month in an interview with Complex that he's down to 205, which is 25 pounds less than he was in 2022 and 10 pounds less than he was last season. He said he shed the pounds to be more agile.

ESPN's Pat McAfee and Dan Orlovsky believe less is more regarding Jackson's weight.

"Lamar has this ability to not take a massive shot," McAfee said. "So, if he's lighter, faster, and still has the ability to miss people, it feels like this is a good move for Lamar Jackson, especially if you have guys like Derrick Henry and Patrick Ricard in the backfield alongside of you. This feels like a smart play. I like this for Lamar."

Orlovsky added: "Him faster blows my mind. Him shiftier and quicker blows my mind."

Yahoo Sports! Charles Robinson also sees the logic in Jackson shedding weight.

"While the adjustment seems counterintuitive from the standpoint of being able to absorb punishment, it makes sense when pressed against the offensive changes made by coordinator Todd Monken last season," Robinson wrote. "Monken's offense moved away from the methodical pounding running game of previous coordinator Greg Roman, demanding a more up-tempo style that leaned heavily on Jackson leading the decisions in the rushing attack while also making adjustments at the line of scrimmage. In the process, it became more clear that a bigger frame also meant a less agile runner, leading to more punishment absorbed.

"The difference now — in theory — is that Jackson should be more elusive when he's running the ball or navigating the pocket, while also not wearing down late in games while pushing a higher tempo scheme. It also dials Jackson closer to his 2019 frame, which saw him put up arguably the best season of his career in terms of production, which capped the first of his two MVP seasons."

Fox Sports' Jason McIntyre had a negative opinion of Jackson's body transformation.

"Are we buying this? A quarterback wants to be skinnier and quicker? What, so you can run more and get hit more?" McIntyre said. "This doesn't make sense. … I don't understand why Lamar wants to lose weight and run more. That's not a winning recipe in the NFL."

The Baltimore Banner's Jonas Shaffer contended that there is both reward and risk with Jackson playing at a lighter weight.

"With a leaner frame, Jackson might be a half-step faster — and with another half-step of separation, Jackson might've broken free in January for an improbable 82-yard touchdown after catching a deflected pass against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game," Shaffer wrote. "And a leaner frame might leave him even more exposed to injury risks, especially behind an offensive line set to take a step back in 2024."

Shaffer noted that four quarterbacks since 2000 have started at least 12 games in a season while playing at 205 pounds or lighter (Kirk Cousins, Jeff Garcia, Doug Flutie, and Bryce Young), and none ran as frequently as Jackson.

Jackson dismissed the notion that weighing less puts him at greater risk of injury.

"We sacrifice our body each and every game [and] practices," he said. "I believe it really doesn't matter about the weight."

Pundit Says Addition of Derrick Henry Benefits Ravens in Locker Room As Well As on Field

The Athletic's Mike Sando named his favorite offseason move for each team. His choice for the Ravens was the acquisition of Henry.

"Signing a 30-year-old running back in free agency for $8 million per year usually would not be a great idea, but Derrick Henry's addition made sense for the Ravens in the context of their offseason," Sando wrote. "The move signals renewed commitment to the running game after Baltimore lost its way in the playoffs. It also was the type of move that resonates in a locker room, which was needed for the Ravens after the team suffered a talent exodus. Adding Odell Beckham Jr. last offseason served a similar purpose. Henry will likely deliver more on the field than Beckham did."

Henry provided a glimpse of what he brings to the Ravens at OTAs this week.

"At several points in Wednesday's practice, Henry burst through the line of scrimmage, quickly arriving at the second level," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "These are non-contact practices, but the decisiveness and explosiveness with which Henry runs have still been on display."

What Could Prevent Ravens From Making the Playoffs?

The Ravens are regarded as one of the NFL’s most complete teams and a strong contender to win the Super Bowl. Of course, there are no guarantees in the NFL.

Pro Football Focus’ Gordon McGuinness named one reason why every AFC team will miss the playoffs. For the Ravens, it is if the new-look offensive line doesn't pan out.

"The Ravens have handled offensive line shake-ups before, but it is hard to ignore the unit's offseason departures," McGuinness wrote. "Right tackle Morgan Moses and right guard Kevin Zeitler both ranked inside the top 10 at their respective positions in PFF grade last season. That's a lot to ask of rookie Roger Rosengarten and veteran Ben Cleveland, who will likely replace them. John Simpson, meanwhile, is easier to replace."

Monken said yesterday that he has high expectations for the O-line and likes what he has seen thus far.

"We're in the development business, right now, with Ben, and you've got some of the young guys that we drafted a year ago, like 'Big Sal' [Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu] and [Andrew] Vorhees, and you've got Daniel [Faalele]," he said. "All those guys are getting invaluable reps now, and obviously, once we put the pads on, for them, [that's] where it will really be critical. We put the pads on, we get a chance to play in the preseason, and then you can assess, 'Hey, as they keep developing, what are their strengths? [What] do we need to continue to work on?' And they're doing a great job now, and I expect them to play at a really high level – I really do."

Two Ravens Day 3 Picks Who Could Make Instant Impact

The Athletic's Nick Baumgardner identified which Day 3 draft picks could make an instant impact. Both of the Ravens' fourth-round picks made the list:

WR Devontez Walker

"Walker was a first-round prospect, even with all of the studs at wide receiver in the 2024 class. He's 6-1 with 33-inch arms, 4.36 speed and a 40 1/2-inch vertical. He is a big-play receiver who can adjust in the air and get to off-target throws that others can't. Baltimore's offense has to graduate beyond relying so heavily on Lamar Jackson's legs and its tight ends. Adding Zay Flowers in 2023 was a good start, and though I'm not saying Walker will have a similar impact, he'll have every opportunity to try."

CB T.J. Tampa

"Another potential snag by the Ravens here, at a position of need. Tampa has the size (6-0, 194 with 32-inch arms) and foot speed to be a physical, dependable outside corner in the NFL who can come downhill and help in the run game. There are questions about his speed and consistency, which explains why he was available in Round 4. However, on talent alone, Tampa probably was closer to a second-round prospect in this year's corner group. Whether or not he earns a starting job immediately will depend on how consistent he is with his run support — but his talent should be enough to get him on the field."

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