Lamar Jackson Is Benefitting From Facing Ravens' Defense
Sometimes the best way to learn is the hard way, and second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson is definitely being tested by the Ravens' top-notch secondary.
On Wednesday, Jackson got a taste of how new Ravens safety Earl Thomas III will challenge opposing quarterbacks when Thomas stepped in front of a pass over the middle and took it the other way for a pick-six.
It's not just Thomas who is presenting a tough challenge. The Ravens have arguably the most talented secondary in the league and mad scientist Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale calling the plays. For a quarterback going through intense development as a passer, it's the perfect training ground.
"I would like to think that it's something that you just couldn't replicate," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
"He is seeing so many different looks, coverages, fronts and blitzes that you couldn't put on a card, and yet he sees them every day just as a matter of course and has to deal with them. So, you're going to have plays like that. Our defense is going to make plays, and he's going to be surprised, and there's no game-planning going on or anything like that. But, to have to deal with those guys back there on the other side has to be a plus for a developing quarterback – for all those guys."
Overall, Jackson has avoided big mistakes and protected the football. After throwing an interception on the first day of training camp, he didn't toss one over the next three days. Jackson was throwing the ball very well Wednesday before the pick.
Earlier in practice, Jackson laid a perfect pass down the seam into the outstretched arms of tight end Mark Andrews. Only problem was Humphrey broke off his receiver and closed fast on the pass and was able to knock it out of Andrews' hands.
"That ball was thrown so well. I thought I was going to be able to intercept it, but [Jackson] dropped it right in the bucket, and I barely got there, and I barely just jarred it out last minute," Humphrey said.
"From my perspective, from OTAs and minicamp to the first day of training camp, Lamar has made … I don't know what he was doing throughout the break, but he made some serious strides, and it has really shown. At first, during OTAs, I felt like they weren't really giving us many fits with the different things on offense. But since training camp has started, there have been some pretty good battles, as you guys saw in the stadium. And, they won that day in the little point system. Lamar has been doing well, and I think our pretty good secondary is definitely helping him out."
New Quarterback Was Groomed by Greg Roman in High School
It didn't take Joe Callahan long to decide to join the Ravens. Five minutes after they called offering him a contract, he was packing up his car and driving to Baltimore.
Callahan said he worked out for the Ravens a week ago. When Robert Griffin III injured his hand in Saturday's practice, Baltimore called back.
Callahan has spent time with the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But Baltimore has a special connection since Callahan will be playing for Greg Roman, who last coached Callahan at Holy Spirit High School in New Jersey.
During his freshman year of high school, Callahan was rotating with another player between safety and quarterback. Roman turned him into a full-time QB and they won the state championship together.
"He was definitely trying to dumb down some NFL level stuff to a group of high school kids," Callahan said with a laugh. "He was a good coach and I think really helped accelerate my learning process."
Callahan chuckled at the notion that playing for Roman before in a high school offense would help him much with learning the Ravens' much more complex NFL offense, but he threw well in his first practice. Callahan squeezed a pass into a tight window to undrafted wide receiver Antoine Wesley.
"I thought he looked good today," Harbaugh said. "He has a good arm. He's won games in the preseason in Green Bay. He's been in Cleveland. He's an experienced guy."
Marlon Humphrey Motivated by Quotes From Departed Ravens
Terrell Suggs and Eric Weddle are no longer in Baltimore, but their leadership still lingers. Humphrey said he hung quotes from Suggs and Weddle on the mirror in his house.
"They left a lasting impact on me, and every time I brush my teeth in the morning, I see those quotes," Humphrey said.
There's been a lot of buzz about Humphrey this offseason after he had a very strong second season. Pundits view the 2017 first-round pick as a young breakout star who could be one of the top cornerbacks in the league.
Humphrey said one of his goals is to reach the Pro Bowl and the other ones are on his mirror next to those inspirational quotes. He didn't share those other specific goals, but said he's staying away from the preseason hype.
"Conversation is conversation. I'm more of a results guy," Humphrey said. "It's kind of like taking a test. You're like, 'I did really well on that test,' then you get an F, then you're like, 'Dang.'
"When I'm out there, I just feel like we're all on one accord, and that's the biggest thing. … But, as far as me, I just feel comfortable around the building, I feel comfortable on the field, I just feel really, really comfortable."