The Baltimore Ravens play their next preseason game on Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles. They are 2-0 in their first two games, and in fact haven’t lost a game in the preseason since just before Lamar Jackson’s first game in college.
Jackson emerged as the starter at quarterback in the second half of last season, and managed to help the team to a 6-1 record, making an improbable run to the postseason after starting 4-5 in the first nine games. At the time, he was throwing to the likes of John Brown and Michael Crabtree, both of whom are no longer with the team.
The question heading into the key third preseason game is whether or not the player who is expected to emerge as his new number one target will be out on the field with him for the first time. That would be 2019 first-round draft pick Marquise Brown, who has spent the entire offseason recovering from a foot injury suffered well before the draft.
Brown began training camp on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform List, but was able to clear that and the conditioning test within the first couple of weeks. He has slowly had his workload ramped up since then, and is very close now to full speed.
“We’re giving him more every day and I think the plan was the right plan”, new offensive coordinator Greg Roman told reporters earlier when asked about the approach with their top rookie. “I think this past week we really saw a different gear from him. That’s exciting”.
There was one anecdote in which Brown took a pass and went the distance with it. Jackson didn’t see the beginning of the play, only caught the end, and was surprised by his speed. Brown was regarded as one of the fastest players in the draft, if not the fastest, even though he was not healthy enough to run at the Combine.
The Ravens are hoping to see Jackson and Brown on the field together before they open the regular season, Roman saying that the receiver’s “style is a little different” from the rest of the group Jackson has been throwing to. “He can kick that gear in, so you better put some mustard on that ball”.
In Brown’s absence, Baltimore’s top receivers have included Michael Floyd, Seth Roberts, Willie Snead, and third-round pick Miles Boykin. Chris Moore as well. Outside of Snead and Moore, all of them are new additions in 2019, either through the draft or free agency.
In two seasons at the college level, Brown caught 123 passes for 2413 yards, averaging 18.3 yards per reception, with 17 touchdowns. He caught 75 passes for 1318 yards and 10 touchdowns in 10 games during the 2018 season.