The Ravens handed the reigns of the offense over to Lamar Jackson for the final day of minicamp and the rookie quarterback handled himself well.
Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg came up with the idea earlier in the week to give Jackson all the 11-on-11 reps at the end of camp as a test for the first-round pick.
To be clear, it has nothing to do with Joe Flacco's play this offseason (which has been strong) or his status as the starter. The Ravens just wanted to get the rookie more reps.
In summary, Jackson made some exceptional throws out of the pocket, showed his usual shifty moves as a runner, completed a lot of passes, missed on some others and didn't throw any interceptions (that were his fault).
Overall, it was a good day.
"He ran almost the whole practice today, and that's a big step in the right direction," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
"He responded well. I think we had one timeout we had to call, which isn't too bad for a rookie running the whole practice. He got the plays called. He competed, completed some passes as much as you can."
Jackson's best throw may have been about a 20-yard out to wide receiver Willie Snead IV. Jackson had to loop the ball over a dropping linebacker's head, yet put enough stem on the pass to get it to the sideline. He hit Snead perfectly in stride.
Jackson also ended the day by zipping a pass on the run to receiver Chris Moore in tight coverage during red-zone work for what would have been a touchdown.
He continued to display a pretty deep ball and his mechanics have improved, which has led to better zip and accuracy on his passes when compared to rookie minicamp in April. Quarterbacks Coach James Urban also indicated that Jackson has added some physical strength.
"Everything is a work in progress," Urban said. "We're heading in the right direction. There's much, much to do, but he's done well so far.
"There were some really good plays, some very, very encouraging plays and there's been some you'd like to have back. Today, I thought he competed like crazy. There's two things I've emphasized: compete and complete the ball. And I think he tried very hard to do those two things today."
The biggest progress Jackson has made, however, is in play-calling. It's a lot for any rookie to have the offensive playbook dumped on him, but especially for a quarterback, and particularly one coming from a college offense that didn't require him to do the bulk of the play-calling (coaches did it from the sideline).
"That was [the hardest thing] right there," Jackson said of calling the plays in NFL practices, which requires telling each wide receiver, his running back and offensive linemen what to do. "It was pretty hard at first. I'm still going through the process, but I'm getting better at it."
The Ravens have been happy with their rookie quarterback's work throughout the offseason so far. He's blended in well in the quarterbacks room, asking the right questions and soaking up as much as he can from the veterans without stepping on anyone's toes.
"Since he got here, he's been all ears, so to speak. He wants to learn. Very hard worker, very smart guy," Harbaugh said.
"Sometimes it's knowing what you don't know. Some guys don't know and they don't know that they don't know. He knows a lot, but he also knows what he doesn't know. The type of offense and type of systems that he's going to be exposed to in this league are far different than what he did in college. It's just a different game."
Jackson has come a long way, but knows there's still a lot of work to be done. Flacco will be the Ravens' starter this season as long as he's healthy. Jackson will be used in other ways to utilize his unique athleticism and throwing/running combo.
Asked to give himself a grade so far this offseason, Jackson said, "I don't really want to grade myself. I've been pretty good though, I'll give you that."
Here are other notes from Thursday's minicamp finale:
- Injury report: Wide receiver John "Smokey" Brown returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday. Rookie tight end Mark Andrews (unknown) was out. Offensive lineman Alex Lewis (back spasms) was still sidelined. Cornerback Jimmy Smith (Achilles) and linebacker Albert McClellan (knee) did individual drills again. A handful of veterans, including Terrell Suggs and Eric Weddle, were given the day off.
- Moore continued his strong offseason with a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch down the sideline. He tracks the ball well.
- Flacco had one of his best throws of the week with a back-shoulder laser to receiver Tim White down the sideline. White made a nice play coming back to snare it.
- Outside linebacker Matthew Judon isn't an easy guy to juke, and Jackson found that out on one play in the backfield where Judon had the rookie dead to rights.
- Undrafted rookie wide receiver Andre Levrone (Virginia) had a strong day and looks to have good chemistry with Jackson. Levrone is a muscled-up, bigger wide receiver (6-foot-2, 216 pounds) who has solid burst. He made one nice catch as he went low to the turf and also hauled in a pair of deep posts.
- Fourth-round wide receiver Jaleel Scott had a pass go through his hands and get picked off by cornerback Marlon Humphrey. Humphrey celebrated by working on his intricate handshake with fellow cornerback Tavon Young for a few minutes on the sideline.
- Wide receiver Willie Snead IV finished a strong minicamp with one of the best catches of the week when he dove to haul in a pass that went off a running back's hands.