Lamar Jackson is missing the Baltimore Ravens’ first week of organized team activities, marking the first time the former NFL MVP quarterback hasn’t been in attendance at voluntary spring workouts.
“We’ve been down this road many times over the years,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after practice Wednesday. “I’ll let Lamar speak for himself about that. That’s up to him. You can ask him.”
When asked if he was worried about Jackson running out of practice time, Harbaugh replied, “It’s not for me to speak for anyone else on this. It’s up to him to speak for himself on this.”
Jackson said on social media on Tuesday that he was not present for the start of the OTAs, but he did not provide a reason for his absence. He tweeted“I can’t wait to come back”, with purple heart and rocket emojis.
Baltimore has eight remaining voluntary OTA practices through mid-June. Jackson is obligated to attend only the team’s mandatory minicamp, which is scheduled for June 14-16.
“If it was training camp, it would be really bad,” cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. “I think as long as the guys are working, no matter where they are, that’s the biggest key. I spoke with Lamar earlier in the offseason. He said he’ll be back soon.”
Ravens tight end Mark Andrews said he spoke to Jackson and knew how hard he worked away from the facility.
“He’s extremely motivated and extremely hungry,” Andrews said. “So there are no worries there. I know what he’s doing and we’re all working and doing our jobs here and preparing for him. We’ll be ready to go and I’m confident he’ll be ready and show everyone what he has and the type of hunger he has right now.”
Jackson is entering his fifth-year option, which will earn him $23.016 million this season. The Ravens are expected to place him on the franchise tag next offseason if the teams fail to secure an extension.
Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta has repeatedly said the team tried to engage in long-term contract negotiations, but Jackson was not interested in doing so. Asked about contract negotiations with Jackson earlier this month, DeCosta said “nothing has really changed on that front.”
Jackson tried to crush speculation that he was considering leaving Baltimore. In March, he tweeted that he loved the Ravens and cited a “false story” that he was considering leaving the franchise.
Jackson’s absence comes at a time when Baltimore is looking to rebound from its first last place finish in 15 years. He knows the Ravens offense well after playing the last three seasons under offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s system. But Baltimore has one of the youngest wide receiver groups in the NFL. None of the 12 receivers are over 25 and none have played more than two seasons in the NFL.
Ravens officials praised Jackson’s workouts away from the facility. Jackson threw to wide receivers Rashod Bateman and James Proche in private passing sessions in Florida and California. He also trained with pitching coach Adam Dedeaux.
“We’re getting great reports,” DeCosta said earlier this month. “We talk to him all the time. We contact him all the time. We talk to other players. I believe – and I think the coach [John Harbaugh] feels that way – that we’re about to have a great year in attack.”
Jackson is coming off the toughest season of his four-year career. Last season, he threw a career-worst 13 interceptions and was sacked a career-high 38 times. He has missed the last four games with a right ankle injury. Jackson’s last full practice with the Ravens was on Dec. 10.
In Jackson’s absence, the only other quarterbacks on the Ravens’ roster are Tyler Huntley and undrafted rookie Anthony Brown.
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