Comfort level is a feeling, sometimes difficult to explain. With Lamar Jackson, the growth in his comfort level as the team’s franchise quarterback is tangible to teammates, even in the early stages of their offseason program.
That’s a good sign for the Ravens, who are counting heavily on Jackson to take a step forward in his second NFL season – his first as the team’s unquestioned No. 1 quarterback. Different people lead in different ways, but quarterbacks are expected to lead regardless of their personality. Jackson seems ready to continue his growth in that department.
“Yes, I think he has more of an understanding of the offense for sure,” right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. said. “His swag is a lot different, because he knows he’s QB1, and it’s a situation where his confidence and his humbleness is there at the same time. We’re looking forward to getting out there on the field.
“He’s Lamar – he’s outgoing, he’s got a very positive personality about everything – but I feel like this year, you can just kind of tell that he knows what to expect going into the day, and he knows what to expect once we hit the field.”
Jackson’s running ability will be part of the Ravens’ offensive arsenal, and at age 22 his body is still changing. Strength and Conditioning Coach Steve Saunders has been pleased with Jackson’s approach to training, knowing it could help his body deal with the demands of a 16-game schedule.
“Lamar is such a freak athlete,” Saunders said. “We did some good things with him last year, but I really think Lamar is ready to take the next step as a pro and train a little harder and start working out those little things – that five percent with an elite athlete that makes a big difference, even in a guy like that who is already a genetic freak.
“I just got done beating Lamar up 15 minutes ago, and what a great workout. What a great attitude, and just, ‘Give me more. Give me more.’ It was awesome. It was awesome, so much better than even last year. I just got done talking to (Head) Coach [John] Harbaugh about it. It was just really exciting to see a guy like that from, let’s say, a position group that’s historically not really into training, necessarily, and see a guy like that embrace it this early.”
The Ravens were impressed with what they heard about Jackson’s work ethic prior to drafting him, so they are not surprised. Jackson said he threw the ball every Monday-Friday during the three months away from the Under Armour Performance Center, and he worked with his old high school coach, Joshua Harris.
Jackson has enjoyed focusing on football this offseason, rather than being involved in the hectic pre-draft process.
“Yes, it was so exhausting going through the process, having to fly different places, have to be up at certain times,” Jackson said. “I just needed a break, I guess. Now, I’m very comfortable.
“I don’t feel like I’m the best I can be right now. I’ll have to see when the season comes. Still working.”
Teammates are already convinced Jackson is ready to handle the extra responsibility, after winning six of his eight starts as a rookie. What they see during the offseason program only strengthens that belief.
“Lamar is our quarterback,” safety Tony Jefferson said. “It’s his team. We’re following his lead. We know how big of a leader he can be, and how special he can be on the football field. We’re dependent on him, and we know he’s putting in the work that’s needed.”