There was a lot of talk about the "next step" for Lamar Jackson coming off a record-breaking MVP 2019 season.
While he and the Ravens will of course work on every facet of his game (he's just 23 years old), Jackson has pointed to a desire to be more consistent on deep passes as a primary focus.
It's still early in training camp, but so far, so good. Jackson threw a handful of beautiful deep passes to his young wideouts in Tuesday's practice, showing the promise of strengthening another prong of the Ravens' top offense.
"We're doing a lot better than we were last year, especially on deep passes," Jackson said after practice.
Jackson connected with rookie wide receiver Devin Duvernay twice on deep passes, including one when the Texas speedster got behind Pro Bowler Marcus Peters.
Jackson later hit his top wideout, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown with a deep pass in one-on-one WR-CB drills in which Brown shook Marlon Humphrey after getting originally getting locked up at the line of scrimmage.
Jackson was good on the move too, hitting second-year wide receiver Miles Boykin with a perfectly lofted pass down the sideline. Jackson also connected with Willie Snead IV as he scrambled to his left. Snead made a pretty toe-tapping sideline grab.
Here are some other notes from Tuesday's padded practice:
- Boykin had a strong day with several nice plays deep and in contested situations. The second-year wideout is expected to take a big leap forward this year, and with reports of veteran free agent Dez Bryant visiting, Boykin showed he can live up to the expectations.
- Duvernay had a particularly strong day, showing off how his speed can be a game-changer in stretching the field. The third-round pick also beat Anthony Averett with a double move to haul in a deep pass from Jackson. Duvernay is also showing he can play a variety of positions, not just the slot.
- Veteran free-agent addition Calais Campbell is already wrecking shop. He seems to always be around the ball and one "thud" from the big man on Mark Ingram II was enough to knock the Pro Bowl running back over.
- Tight end Nick Boyle is known more for his blocking, but he made a pair of nice diving catches in Tuesday's practice, including one leaping catch with rookie linebacker Patrick Queen draped all over him. Boyle has become a better receiver over the years and if he can continue that trajectory, he'll help offset the loss of Hayden Hurst.
- Veteran outside linebacker Pernell McPhee looks good coming back from his season-ending triceps injury. He used a nice swim move to get around fullback Patrick Ricard and chase Jackson to the sideline. With second-year linebacker Jaylon Ferguson sidelined for a second straight practice, McPhee has a prime chance to show he's back and still has a lot to offer.
- Slot cornerback Tavon Young is showing no ill effects from last year's neck injury. His toughness in coverage showed with a breakup on a 7-on-7 pass underneath to Snead.
- After Trace McSorley and new tight end Jerrell Adams weren't on the same page on one play, it was interesting to see Jackson come up to approach Adams afterward and walk him through what went wrong on the play. McSorley followed up as well. Even when he's not taking the rep, Jackson is paying close attention and mentoring.
- Rookie defensive tackle Justin Madubuike has a lot of talent, and could contribute as a rotational piece behind the big three of Campbell, Derek Wolfe and Brandon Williams, who returned to practice Tuesday. Wearing No. 92 brings on memories of Haloti Ngata, though Madubuike is about 50 pounds lighter.
- Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday that Duvernay is another option at punt returner but rookie James Proche II is still the top candidate. Proche also caught some tight passes over the middle. He has good burst off the line of scrimmage and excellent hands. He's been the first player on the practice field, catching passes off the JUGS machine, both of the first two days.