Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has had quite the offseason.
Since the Ravens were bounced from the playoffs by the Titans in mid-January, Jackson has won the league’s MVP award, worked out with Antonio Brown, gotten a new tattoo with a remodeled “Big Truss” phrase, tweeted with the president of the United States and announced himself as the cover athlete for Madden 21 when the game is released in August.
Tuesday, he addressed the media for the first time since the Ravens’ playoff loss in the divisional round of the playoffs from Florida where he talked about his offseason, but also the Ravens’ future with him at the helm.
“Just like last year, I want to work on everything,” Jackson said of his workouts. “Whether it’s running, passing, out-breaking routes and deep passes. I feel like we need to hit a lot more deep passes than we did last year. We had a lot of production, and we were a better team than from the year before, I feel, at least offensively. Quarantine is slowing down everything right now.”
Of course, the biggest workout — publicly — was his afternoon with Brown, a free agent wide receiver who was released by the Patriots during the 2019 season.
“With the Hollywood (Marquise Brown) and Antonio Brown stuff, we were just trying to put in some work,” Jackson said. “A lot of my fans were coming on my page and saying, ‘We want to see you working out,’ and stuff like that.”
Jackson received criticism both for working out in close proximity to others during a quarantine, and also for his choice of a workout partner.
“So, the media let that out, that I was working out, but it was just bad timing," Jackson continued. “We understand that we are supposed to be safe. We were just trying to get a little work in, but we know now.”
Antonio Brown, who was released by the Patriots and Raiders and traded by the Steelers in the last year, is being investigated by the NFL for allegations of sexual assault against his trainer, Britney Taylor, who alleged that Antonio sexually assaulted her in 2017 and 2018. She also claims that in 2018, she was raped by Antonio.
Antonio has denied all allegations against him and has countersued Taylor for defamation.
Still, Jackson knows the type of talent that Antonio, who has posted more than 1,000 yards receiving in seven seasons, can bring to the table.
“I’d be happy if they signed him,” Jackson said. “He’s a great player. He showed it each and every year when he was with the Steelers in the past, but it’s not my decision.”
Aside from his workout partners, Jackson was asked about the future additions to the Ravens in this week’s NFL Draft, and who he’d like to see the Ravens take with their nine choices.
“Get the guys we need,” Jackson said. “We need a replacement for Marshal (Yanda). Marshal was that guy — first-ballot Hall of Famer — we need a guy for him. And whoever else we need, come in and help get us a championship.”
Whoever the Ravens draft, he doesn’t think the new additions will see him carry the ball as much as he did in his first two seasons in the NFL. He carried the ball 323 times in his first two years, setting the quarterback record for rushing yards in a season in 2019.
“To be honest, it really doesn’t matter, as long as it’s going to help us win the game,” Jackson said. “But I doubt that I am going to be carrying the ball a lot going further into the future, because we have dynamic running backs and even more receivers. We have Hollywood, Mark Andrews, Nick (Boyle), Willie Snead IV, Miles (Boykin), we are going to be pretty good, and I don’t think I’ll be running a lot.”
And as for how far the Ravens offense can take the team?
“There’s no telling, Jackson said. “The sky is the limit. I just want to be a better player than I was last year. I need to win a playoff game before anything, because I’m tired of that already. Once I get tired of something, I have to make it happen. So, that’s my goal right now; focus on being a better player all around. Not just a (better) player, but teammate as well.”
Potentially the biggest obstacle to slowing the Ravens’ offense down, though, isn’t a defense or even themselves. It’s COVID-19.
With the U.S. in the midst of social distancing and strict quarantine regulations, the NFL offseason — and regular season — is still up in the air.
Jackson, however, refuses to let that thought fester.
“The world needs football,” Jackson said. “I think we’ll be playing football this year, so I’m not going to put that in my mind.”
And as for playing games without fans? He doesn’t see that as an option, either.
“I really don’t see that happening,” Jackson said. “I don’t know, I’ve never seen anything like that. I’ve never played football without people watching. So, I don’t know. I don’t know.”
Whether the Ravens are able to get the 2020 season off without a hitch or not, Jackson will continue to prep for the upcoming year with a friendly and not-so-subtle reminder of his outstanding 2019 season.
His trophies from the 2019 season, he said, are at his home — just like everyone is.
“They’re chilling right now,” Jackson quipped. “They’re social distancing, too.”
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