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News & Notes: Todd Monken Wants Lamar Jackson Shouldering Less of the Load

QB Lamar Jackson
QB Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson has accounted for the vast majority of the Ravens' offense in recent years. No quarterback has run more in their first five seasons.

With more offensive weapons around Jackson, new Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken wants to take some off Jackson's plate.

"I think the more talented you are around your quarterback, the less he has to burden – take on that burden – shoulder the load, because you're excited about getting others the football where they can utilize their skill set," Monken said Wednesday.

With the wide receiver additions of Odell Beckham Jr., first-round pick Zay Flowers and veteran Nelson Agholor, Jackson has the best collection of weapons around him that he's ever had. Monken's offense projects to put the ball in the air more than Greg Roman's run-heavy scheme, in part because the Ravens have upgraded their perimeter weapons.

That also should mean less running for Jackson, who was often used in designed quarterback runs under Roman. The Ravens signed Jackson to a five-year extension and keeping their now 26-year-old franchise quarterback healthy will remain a large priority.

"As you get further into your career, as Lamar gets older – as everybody does – you want to take some of that off of the player as best you can," Monken said. "But he has a unique trait, a unique skillset. You can't take that completely out of his toolbox because that's a huge weapon for him and for us, is using his feet."

It's not that the Ravens will eliminate Jackson's runs. In certain situations, they may still call a designed quarterback run. Monken used that as a weapon with Stetson Bennett last year at Georgia, particularly in the red zone (he had 10 rushing touchdowns), and Jackson is a far more dynamic runner.

After inking his contract, Jackson talked about running less during an appearance on “The Lounge” podcast.

"I love our running backs. Let them do that job. That's for them," Jackson said. "I'm the quarterback. Let me throw it. If something's not open, then I just do my thing. Then you'll see Lamar's special moments."

Jackson Isn't Present at Football School, Arrival Date TBD

The Ravens' quarterbacks at football school practice, which was open to the media, were Tyler Huntley and Anthony Brown.

Monken was asked when he expects Jackson to arrive for practices with his teammates.

"Well, first off, we're excited about the guys who are here," Monken said. "I know Lamar is working hard. I know the guys that aren't here are working hard; they're pros. When they're here, they're here. We look forward to getting them here and getting up to speed to what we're doing offensively. I think that's probably the biggest challenge, but it's football. When they get here, they get here, and we'll get them up to speed."

Monken said the Ravens are in "constant communication" with the players, even those who aren't at the Under Armour Performance Center.

"We're getting [Jackson] opportunities to talk football and try and catch him up to speed," Monken said. "We're excited about the guys who are here, and I know they're working hard. We get updates from those guys in terms of working. So, again, when that – it is voluntary – but we're excited about the guys who are here. I do think that we'll be able to get those guys here hopefully in a short amount of time, but until that happens, we'll get up to speed with the guys we have."

One of the first questions Jackson got at his press conference after signing his extension was about when he would start practicing with the team this offseason, specifically at the start of Organized Team Activities.

"OTAs? I'm going to be in; I'm going to be in soon. I'll be here soon," Jackson said.

Devin Duvernay Provides Health Update

Wide receiver/returner Devin Duvernay went down with a season-ending foot injury late last season getting ready for the team's Week 16 game.

Duvernay said the timing of the injury was "very frustrating" and it took him a couple months to get back feeling right.

"As far as where I'm at right now in this process, I'm doing good," Duvernay said. "I'm running; I'm doing things. [I've] still got a little bit to go, but I'm feeling good, though. [I'm] feeling good [and] making progress."

Last year's was a tough blow for a wide receiver who had been thrust in to the starting lineup and was getting ready for the stretch playoff run.

Duvernay had his best season as a receiver, catching 37 passes for 407 yards and three touchdowns. He also was voted to his second straight Pro Bowl as a returner. Now he enters this season with a lot more depth and talent around him.

"I feel good," he said. "New year, new opportunity. All I can do is take care of myself, work on myself and let the rest play out."

Trenton Simpson Should Make an Immediate Special Teams Impact

It remains to be seen how much of an impact, and in what ways, third-round linebacker Trenton Simpson can make on defense as a rookie. One thing that's for sure, however, is that he's expected to be a difference-maker on special teams.

Special Teams Coordinator Chris Horton is intrigued by the size-speed-toughness combination that Simpson provides, and believes that, along with his mindset, will translate to him being an excellent special teams contributor.

"It was pretty easy to love this guy," Simpson said. "You turn on the tape, and you watch him fly around, you watch him get to the football, you watch him make plays. When I had the privilege to evaluate that guy as a special teamer, it was a no-brainer for me; I want that kind of player. That guy has the traits – those Raven traits – that we look for; he was tough, he was fast, he was physical. He loved playing football, and his energy was just off the chart. That's the kind of players we've had in this building, so I truly believe that guy's going to do some good things for us this year."

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