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A big Year 2 ahead, Lamar Jackson isn’t worried about Madden ratings

A big Year 2 ahead, Lamar Jackson isn’t worried about Madden ratings

The number eight is sports royalty in the city of Baltimore thanks to Cal Ripken Jr.

If Lamar Jackson has the career many are hoping for, he’ll be another reason for that one day down the road.

For now, he’s a young, athletic quarterback entering his second season in Charm City. But his successful rookie year hasn’t been reflected in Madden NFL 20’s newest ratings.

Jackson came in with an overall rating of 76, tied for 24th among all quarterbacks. Unsurprisingly, his athleticism is highly-regarded, as he leads all signal-callers in speed, acceleration, agility, and elusiveness.

Questions abound about his throwing abilities, leading to the low rating. But that’s not a concern for Jackson himself.

“I can’t feel no way,” the quarterback told media members prior to throwing out the first pitch at the Orioles-Nationals game Wednesday night. “You know, I don’t make Madden. That’s them. But I feel like our team, we’re going to show ‘em this season.”

Jackson continued to praise the Ravens roster. When asked about the high ratings for teammates like Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Earl Thomas, Jackson put his thoughts quite succinctly: “We look stacked!”

Of course, with speed and acceleration ratings like Jackson has, it’s fun to imagine how he might fit in on a baseball diamond as well.

“Whew, somewhere in the middle, to make a play,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde decided when asked where the Ravens quarterback might play on his roster.

“I’m looking forward to meeting him. I’m a big football fan, so watched him play a lot. And if he wanted to play center field or up the middle, it’d be great,” Hyde continued.

The speedy quarterback agreed, though it came with a caveat.

“Probably,” Jackson quickly answered when asked about his best fit being center field. “But you know, I’m the Ravens QB right now, so I’m good.”

He doesn’t know what his walk-up song would be if he played baseball, but Jackson was definitive about one thing at least: his hot dog preferences.

“I don’t really eat mustard,” he emphasized. “So I just put ketchup, relish...I just go from there. Pretty standard.”

When he’s not eating hot dogs, Jackson is working hard to build chemistry with his new receiving corps, and he seemed optimistic about the results it will bring on the field.

“Looking pretty good,” he described. “You’ll have to see for yourself.”

Knowing how many dual Orioles and Ravens fans there are in Baltimore, Jackson was also happy to provide a little hope as the city’s attention starts to shift from baseball to football. He gave a message to O’s fans who have sat through months of losing baseball and are looking to the Ravens to bring winning back to the city.

“Look forward to us coming out and balling,” he said. “Can’t say too much right now, [the] season’s not here!”

The Ravens season will be here soon enough, and when it is, Jackson will be ready to go out and show both local and national fans what he can do, regardless of what his Madden rating says.

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Bengals tried to prepare for Lamar Jackson by having Andy Dalton emulate him in practice

Bengals tried to prepare for Lamar Jackson by having Andy Dalton emulate him in practice

Disgruntled or not, Andy Dalton is a team player.

The Cincinnati Bengals benched their starting quarterback last week in favor of rookie Ryan Finley after the team stumbled out to an 0-8 start with Dalton under center.

It was a humbling move for the nine-year veteran. But despite reportedly being unhappy with the team’s decision, Dalton has taken the benching in stride—even to the point of being willing to emulate the Bengals’ opposing quarterback on the scout team.

Ahead of their Week 10 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens, the Bengals tasked Dalton with adopting Lamar Jackson’s run-heavy style of play in practice, according to Bengals.com reporter Geoff Hobson.

Dalton has never rushed for more than 200 yards in a season during his NFL career, but did gain over 1,600 yards on the ground over his four years at TCU.

The Ravens went on to win 49-13, with Jackson posting a perfect passer rating of 158.3 along with 223 yards passing, 65 yards rushing and four total touchdowns.

As much as Dalton might have tried, it’s been tough for anyone to replicate the success Jackson—an MVP candidate—has been having this season. Maybe he’ll have better luck taking a page out of Derek Carr’s book before Cincinnati faces the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

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Ravens new defensive line additions Justin Ellis and Domata Peko ready to make impact

Ravens new defensive line additions Justin Ellis and Domata Peko ready to make impact

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Domata Peko thought he had blown his shot to play on the Ravens. 

Peko was brought in for a workout with the Ravens a few weeks ago, and offered a contract, but he turned the offer down and said the move wasn’t right for him.

Just a few weeks later, however, another situation arose with the Ravens and he jumped at the opportunity to sign in Baltimore.

“It went really well, I had an offer, but it wasn’t the right one for me,” Peko explained. “Big shoutout to the people upstairs, Eric did a great job communicating with my agency and they called me two days ago. We were able to get it done.”

The Ravens brought in Peko and another defensive tackle, Justin Ellis, after the team put Daylon Mack on IR and waived Ufomba Kamalu as well. With Michael Pierce’s ankle injury, the defensive line suddenly need a jolt of run-stopping ability.

A 14-year veteran, Peko played for the Bengals for 11 seasons before heading to the Broncos for two seasons. He hasn’t played on a team this year, but feels confident he can help the Ravens’ run defense right away.

“Coaching my son’s football team and doing individual drills with them, that’s how I was kind of staying in shape,” Peko said. “I’m super excited to be here in Baltimore and make a run. That’s why I’m here, to help the defense out and to do my job. As a 14-year-vet, as a nose-man, I feel like I can come right in and do my job and do my part to help us win.”

Peko is in a unique situation, however, having been apart of so many successful Bengals teams for the majority of his career. He’s been in the trenches with Ravens guard Marshal Yanda before, only on the other side. 

Now, he’ll try and help the team he played against for so many years make a push for a championship in the final weeks of the season.

“It does feel weird, playing with the Bengals for 11 seasons and playing up here, playing these guys twice a year,” Peko said. “It does feel a little bit weird, but I’m excited to put this purple and black on. I think I’ll look pretty good in it on Sunday.”

The other addition, Ellis, came from Oakland where he spent the previous five seasons. At 6-foot-2, 350-pound behemoth up front specializes in stopping the run. 

His opportunity came due to his release from the Raiders in October. 

“I’ve kind of been just focused on what’s in front of me,” Ellis said. “When I got the call, my agent thought it was a great opportunity.”

Coach John Harbaugh mentioned their “stout, physical ability,” which was one of the reasons the team added them on. Pierce’s unknown status didn’t hurt, either. Ellis and Peko will likely be big contributors moving forward, should Pierce be absent for any amount of time. 

With other defenders having made significant impacts early on like Josh Bynes, L.J. Fort and Marcus Peters, there’s hope that Peko and Ellis will be able to solidify a defensive line that suddenly is banged up.

“I’ve been just patiently waiting and anticipating the call,” Peko said. “Now that I got the call, I’m here, ready to work and ready to get after it and ready to show Baltimore what I can bring to the table.”

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