Lamar Jackson is already thinking about the hiatus after minicamp, when he heads to South Florida to train with his range of receivers. With the addition of Odell Beckham Jr., he has a new target to work with.
“It’s very important so we can keep our chemistry going and keep building on chemistry because the season is right there,” Jackson said. “The offseason is pretty much over.”
Jackson makes the annual trip home for throwing sessions before training camp in July. In 2021, he said the trip allowed him to get “individualized” work with his top targets while he focused on improving his footwork. Last year, Jackson was set to work with former Florida Atlantic head coach Willie Taggart, who is now the Ravens’ running backs coach.
Beckham confirmed the post-minicamp plans Tuesday. He doesn’t know who’s faster yet, but they might find out in the next few weeks.
“We’ve been talking about it all offseason,” Beckham said about training together. “[Jackson’s] one of the reasons I signed here.”
Jackson’s hopeful other receivers such as Nelson Agholor, Zay Flowers, Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay will make the trip.
“Most of the guys will come down and get ready to grind,” Jackson said.
Head coach John Harbaugh said Beckham is a “full go in terms of health” after the receiver opted out of voluntary workouts and organized team activities. Beckham said he’s “fast” but won’t go full speed yet.
“It feels good to feel like, if I need to take off running right now, I could take off running,” Beckham said Tuesday.
Beckham looked “smooth” to Jackson in Tuesday’s practice with crisp routes, showcasing the great hands he’s known for leaguewide. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken could tell Beckham had been studying but both players are still mastering the playbook, which is similar to what he ran at Georgia with run-pass-option plays and plenty of presnap motion.
Jackson said it didn’t take him long to master Greg Roman’s offense in 2019, citing that Baltimore went 14-2 that year. It hasn’t taken long this offseason to learn Monken’s playbook; he’s just had to study. And that work will continue in South Florida.
“The sky’s the limit with this offense,” Jackson said.
Who wears the green dot?
Ravens inside linebacker Roquan Smith will wear the green dot next season as the defense’s signal-caller, defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald said.
Smith, who earned All-Pro honors last year after his midseason trade to Baltimore, quickly emerged as a defensive linchpin. Macdonald said in November that Smith needed just two days to learn the Ravens’ playbook. “It’s a piece of cake for him,” Macdonald said.
Smith, who had signal-calling responsibilities with the Chicago Bears, replaces Chuck Clark as the defense’s leader. The former Ravens safety was among the few defensive backs to wear the green dot in the league.
Special teams rule changes
NFL owners approved another rule change to special teams play in an effort to increase player safety. Now, fair catches on kickoffs, anywhere on the field, will automatically place the ball at the 25-yard line.
Special teams coordinator Chris Horton said coaches are just as concerned about player safety but the shift basically eradicates kickoff coverage.
“You just sit back and ask yourself when is enough going to be enough,” Horton said about special teams taking the brunt of rule changes. “This has been an exciting phase of the game. People have made their living just by covering kicks.”
Specifically, Horton pointed to former Ravens star Anthony Levine and the New England Patriots’ Matthew Slater. He said the change takes away something those players did well daily.
“It’s not good. It’s not good,” Horton said.
The rule, which all special teams coordinators voted against, will go into effect only for the 2023 season on a trial basis, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
- J.K. Dobbins did not participate in practice due to a minor injury after missing the team’s voluntary “football school” workout and organized team activities. Monken said he asked Dobbins to at least run a swing route or jog down the field because he’s excited to see him out there. “When you’re on the grass, you want to see your best players,” Monken said. Still, Monken understands Dobbins will practice only when he’s ready.
- Left tackle Ronnie Stanley said he’s feeling the healthiest since 2019, the last time he attended a full in-person minicamp. Stanley suffered a season-ending ankle injury in 2020. He played only one game in 2021. For the past few years, Stanley said, 80% of his time has been spent on rehabbing and 20 on training. Now, he’s completely focused on training and is confident he’s back to his former self.
- With question marks surrounding the Ravens’ depth at cornerback and outside linebacker, Macdonald said he had a hands-off approach to the team’s personnel decisions. “If [general manager] Eric [DeCosta] or John [Harbaugh] wants my opinion, they’ll come to me. I think it’s an ongoing conversation within the building of directions we want to go in all aspects, but I’m not initiating any of those conversations.”