The Ravens love Lamar Jackson's ability to escape the pocket and make positive plays.
They don't love it when Jackson takes unnecessary punishment.
Ravens Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg saw Jackson absorb hits that could have been avoided Monday night against the Indianapolis Colts, including one that sent the rookie quarterback head over heels near the Ravens sideline. Mornhinweg was standing just a few yards away.
Mornhinweg respects Jackson's competitive nature, but wants Jackson to do a better job avoiding contact.
"Yeah, that's not good," Mornhinweg said. "Between the numbers, we want to get down underneath the hit – unless you think you can score. Outside the numbers, we want to get up and get out. And we'd rather get down a step too early than a step too late.
"As you can see, that's an ongoing process. Some of it's experience, because he does have to filter through what he can get away with, and what he can't in this league. A little different situation, a little different league, a little different speed."
Jackson said after his first preseason game that the speed of the NFL surprised him. The Heisman Trophy winner rushed for more than 9,000 yards in three college seasons, but it's going to be tougher to find so much open space in the pros.
But as Jackson gains experience, the Ravens believe he will do a better job deciding when to slide, get out of bounds, or risk fighting for extra yards. The fewer hits in receives, the more durable he is likely to be.
Senat Could be Next Offensive Lineman Who Gets Starting Audition
Starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley missed Wednesday's practice with a knee strain suffered against the Colts.
That may give rookie sixth-round pick Greg Senat an opportunity to start at left tackle in Saturday night's preseason game against the Miami Dolphins, in which the starters are expected to see their most extensive playing time yet.
Mornhinweg wants Senat to embrace the opportunity. After missing the first 10 practices of training camp with a left foot injury, Senat is healthy and gaining confidence, and Mornhinweg said he's improved over the past week.
The question is whether the Ravens feel comfortable with the rookie blocking for Joe Flacco Saturday night against Miami's starters. Mornhinweg said the health of the offensive line will be part of the decision-making process regarding Flacco's playing time, but that they also want to evaluate players such as Senat.
"I'll tell you what, with a backup man that's fighting for a starting job, let's say, a good strategy is to put him in with the rest of the 'ones' and see how he does, rather than put him in with the 'twos' or 'threes,'" Mornhinweg said. "Sometimes you can't get quite the evaluation."
Senat played 51 offensive snaps against the Colts and gave up one quarterback hit and hurry, according to Pro Football Focus. He said it didn't feel too big for him despite his late start and small-school (Wagner) background.
"We have a great defense here, so each and every day, we're going against some of the best guys in the league," Senat said. "It kind of helps me settle down and see the defense."
With rookie Orlando Brown Jr. likely to start at right tackle against the Dolphins, the Ravens are taking a long look this preseason at their young offensive linemen. Either Brown or James Hurst could open Week 1 as the starting right tackle, and Brown is being given an opportunity to win the job.
"Really, really smart and mature for such a young man," said Mornhinweg, speaking of Brown. "And then on top of that, he's a big, big man. You've seen him, right? Big. He's got some natural strength to him. The experience will be key for him. As you've seen, we're trying to give him a lot of reps here. He's had a very, very good camp for his situation."
Rosburg Keeps Sense of Humor After Special Teams Woes
The Ravens' special teams did not have a stellar night against the Colts. Punt returners Tim White and Janarion Grant both fumbled, and the Colts also blocked a punt. That made Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg a little nervous when he arrived at the practice facility Tuesday.
Would he still be welcome in the building?
"When I showed up here Tuesday morning to go to work, as I rolled the window down, I looked at the security cameras outside the gate, they looked at my face, and they let me in," Rosburg said, drawing laughter from the assembled media.
The Ravens pride themselves on having top special teams units, year after year. Rosburg joked about being let into the building, but he was very serious about the Ravens cleaning up their special teams miscues prior to Week 1.
"Those kind of mistakes we can learn from," he said. "(But) that's not how we want to play. That's not our style. We went to work this morning in the meeting and in practice to fix those.
"I saw a breakdown in protection (on the blocked punt). In the meeting this morning we addressed it. I took the hit for it. It's a basic premise of our punt protection that we did not have clarity on. As a coach, I take full responsibility."
WR Lasley Getting Advice After Dropped Pass Against Colts
After breaking free and running a deep route down the sideline Monday night, rookie wide receiver Jordan Lasley found himself wide open as he settled under a perfectly thrown pass by Robert Griffin III. But there was just one problem. Lasley dropped it.
Battling to lock down a roster spot, Lasley cannot afford to lose confidence, which is why coaches and players are giving him encouragement.
"He's had a pretty good camp," Mornhinweg said. "Games are emotional, right? So, he drops a touchdown. However, you get back up and take a look at the big picture. We're not going to evaluate a young man on one play."
However, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh made it clear after Monday's game that he is looking for a receiver to seize one of the roster spots available behind the team's top four receivers – Michael Crabtree, John Brown, Willie Snead IV, and Chris Moore. Brown said he spoke to Lasley about the drop to give him a veteran's perspective.
"Just get over it," Brown said. "Those [drops] happen. You have to have a short term memory coming in this league, because I had a couple of those my rookie year. Continue to work and keep motivated."
Stanley, Hurst Among Those Missing Wednesday's Practice
Absent from Wednesday's practice were Stanley, right tackle James Hurst, running back Kenneth Dixon, tight end Mark Andrews, cornerback Maurice Canady, defensive back Bennett Jackson and inside linebacker Alvin Jones.