News & Notes: Lamar Jackson Has Noticed Opponents Taking More Shots at His Legs

121019News&Notes

Lamar Jackson is a moving target, and he believes more opponents are targeting his legs.

Jackson said he would play Thursday night against the New York Jets after being limited (quad) for the second straight practice.

The quad injury occurred on Jackson's 61-yard touchdown pass to Hayden Hurst, when Jackson was hit low after releasing the football by Buffalo defensive end Jerry Hughes.

Jackson did a superb job of staying in the pocket, knowing he was going to get hit, yet delivering a strike to Hurst.

"It was worth it, 100 percent worth it," Jackson said of taking punishment to throw a touchdown pass.

Jackson emphasized that he was injured in the pocket while throwing, not running. Quarterbacks are vulnerable once they begin their throwing motion and as Jackson rolls toward a possible MVP season, he has noticed opponents targeting his legs more often.

"Yeah, they have," Jackson said. "A lot more and especially when I'm inside the pocket. When I'm out on the edge, I kind of avoid it. But when I'm in the pocket trying to complete a throw, that's when nine times out of 10 they're going for my legs. I can't do nothing about it. I'm trying to complete that pass."

Jackson didn't say that he thought opponents were trying to injure him, and there was no flag thrown on the hit by Hughes. The Bills were penalized for a different low shot on Jackson.

"We're playing football, it's an aggressive game," Jackson said. "They're trying to make a tackle and I'm trying to make a move."

However, Ravens safety Earl Thomas III wants officials to be aware of the hits Jackson is taking.

"He doesn't need to be taking those hits," Thomas said. "I think the refs need to pay close attention to that as well and protect him a little bit more, because teams are trying to do … I'm not saying they're trying to hurt Lamar, but they're definitely going at his legs more than they were doing it at first."

Would Thomas do the same thing if he played against Jackson, within the rules?

"Yes, but we're talking about Lamar Jackson," Thomas said, drawing laughter. "That's our quarterback, so I want to protect him."

Teammates Have Confidence in James Hurst at Left Tackle

While tight end Mark Andrews (knee) returned to practice Tuesday on a limited basis, starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley (concussion) sat out his second straight practice.

If Stanley misses his first game of the season Thursday night, veteran offensive lineman James Hurst could make his first start of the season at left tackle. Hurst hasn't started this season, but he has started in past seasons at both right tackle and left guard.

"Ronnie's a big part of this team, but I trust every man we have in this building," starting right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. said. "James is a seasoned veteran. He knows how to play. I'm sure he'll go out there and play one of the best games of his career. He does a really good job of being prepared every week with film study and how he takes care of his body."

Stanley is playing at a Pro Bowl level and Jackson has never started a game without Stanley protecting the blindside. But Jackson is confident Hurst is ready.

"I know he'll fill in and do a great job," Jackson said. "We want Ronnie back, but we have James. We're going to be good."

Patrick Mekari Continues to Work on Snaps

With Jackson often lining up in the shotgun, it's important for undrafted rookie center Patrick Mekari to snap the ball accurately for Baltimore to run its offense with maximum precision.

A few of Mekari's snaps were off target against Buffalo on Sunday, including one snap that threw off the timing of a handoff between Jackson and Justice Hill.

Mekari took over as the starter after Matt Skura suffered a season-ending knee injury and there have been weather issues in both of Mekari's starts – a cold rain against the San Francisco 49ers and windy conditions against Buffalo.

Yet Mekari, who hadn't played a game at center since high school before taking over for Skura, has been working hard this week to improve.

"The more snaps I get, the better I feel," Mekari said. "At the end of the day it's about repetition. It's on me. I was working on that today in practice."

Jackson Says Inclement Weather Shouldn't Stop Offense From Clicking

The rest of December and the playoffs in January could present more inclement weather for the Ravens. If that's the case, Jackson said they can't afford to use weather as an excuse not to produce.

Jackson would like to see Baltimore put up points like it was during October and November. After five straight weeks of scoring at least 30 points, the Ravens have been held to 20 points by the 49ers and 24 points by Buffalo – the No. 1 and No. 3-ranked defenses in the league.

"We can't control Mother Nature," Jackson said. "Going to the game, you have the wind blowing, you have to throw with the wind sometimes. We just have to do a better job."

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