News and Notes 7/22: QB Lamar Jackson 'Way Ahead of the Curve'

072218-News-Notes-Lamar

The Ravens like what they have seen from rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson so far in training camp.

The former Heisman Trophy winner seems to make at least one big play a day and the coaching staff has been encouraged by his early development.

"He's done an outstanding job up to date. He's way ahead of the curve," Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "This guy is a hard, hard worker, a tough-minded guy."

Veteran Joe Flacco is still clearly atop Baltimore's depth chart, but the quick growth from Jackson is an encouraging sign. The Ravens want to find ways to get Jackson on the field this season in unique packages, and they expect to find ways for him to help them win games.

The big focus for the rookie early in training camp has been his accuracy on short passes in the pocket. He's been a bit erratic at times, and the Ravens have put in extra time in that area.

"He's done a fabulous job here of improving every day becoming a pocket passer," Mornhinweg said. "You can see on the practice field, it's coming now. He's getter better every day. There will be a time where he kind of takes a step back to take two steps forward and all that."

Jackson is already eager to show off what he can do in a game environment. The Ravens begin the preseason with the Hall of Fame game Aug. 2, and Jackson is expected to see a heavy workload.

"I have to show them my talent in a preseason," Jackson said. "That's a real game for me. I have to show up and show out."

Flacco 'Moving and Grooving' Better Than He Has in Years

Jackson's development will continue to be closely watched this summer, but Flacco's improved health could very well be the most important storyline of the Ravens' summer. After dealing with knee and back injuries in the last two training camps, Flacco is full-speed this year and the difference is evident.

The biggest difference is in Flacco's movement; he has no limitations as a scrambler or even on designed runs.

"It looks like he's moving and grooving better than he has in several years, and I suppose that's because he's healthy," Mornhinweg said. "He looks pretty good that way."

At one point in Sunday's practice, Flacco drew big cheers from the crowd when he zipped through the defense for a carry of about 10 yards on what looked to be a designed run. He also looked fluid on rollout passes and in scrambling within the pocket.

Having Flacco healthy and mobile will give Mornhinweg more flexibility as a play caller on Sundays.

Martindale 'Not Happy' With Young Defenders Right Now

The Ravens have high expectations for their defense, and new Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale challenged the young players in his group. 

"We're not really happy with where we're at right now with our young guys," Martindale said.

Young players are getting plenty of work because veterans like safety Eric Weddle and linebackers Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley are only taking limited reps right now. Martindale did say that it's typical to have the first and second year players lag behind at this point, but he still expects more from them.

"Nobody is tougher on young guys than me," he said. "Our whole focus is getting these young guys up to speed."

Rosburg Wants to See Returners Better Protect the Football

The Ravens have an open competition for the punt and kick returner jobs, and the candidates didn't have a particularly strong day of practice.

Wide receivers Chris Moore, Tim White, Jordan Lasley, Willie Snead and Janarion Grant are among the candidates for the jobs, and they had issues catching the ball cleanly at the start of practice. Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg emphasized the importance of them protecting the football.

"Today wasn't a real good demonstration of ball skills that I saw back there," Rosburg said. "I have a lot of things to look at."

Rosburg has said all offseason that the returner spot will come down to performance in preseason games, and he reiterated that point again Sunday.

"The depth chart will determine itself based on how players play, and we'll see who does well in preseason," he said.

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