If Lamar Jackson were a 45-year-old Tom Brady or a 38-year-old Aaron Rodgers, Wednesday might have come and gone as a product of wisdom, patience and sleight of hand. Instead, when the 25-year-old Baltimore Ravens quarterback showed up wearing a full-length black compression sleeve on his outstretched arm and didn’t try to pass in Wednesday’s practice, he got the kind of response you’d expect expected
Raised eyebrows, questions and some wonder what exactly the problem is.
“Just a normal course of the season kind of thing,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters. “He practiced today so he will play on Sunday.”
Although he appeared to go through practice, Jackson told reporters he did not throw a pass Wednesday and was also listed on the injury report with a right elbow injury. He was also wearing a type of sleeve with elbow padding that a league source said team trainers typically use to encourage blood flow and minimize joint swelling. The source, who has seen pictures of Jackson in the sleeve, said it is comparable to the sleeve worn by Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford – whose elbow required reduced workload and rest starting last season and who lasted through training camp.
Although it was unclear exactly what caused the injury, Jackson appeared to throw his arm at cornerback Patrick Ricard in the third quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins.
“Guys get hit or land on their elbow [in games] and they can be dealing with soreness and swelling for a few days, so you’ll see them slim down as a practice precaution,” the source said. “I don’t think it’s unusual if he’s not throwing consistently and then taking a day off throwing every week. If this is the case, then it can be a red flag. … He’s on the first injured list after that [the game on Sunday]so usually that’s something where he’s probably hit and it’s just swelling or tension and they’re being careful and making sure he’s good to go. [Sunday].”
Jackson, who has yet to nail down a long-term contract extension, didn’t seem concerned about having to roll up the sleeves and told reporters he was happy to play Sunday.
“I’m going to spend Sunday — a lot of Sundays,” Jackson said. “… I’m good. The [elbow] pad came with the sleeve. It wasn’t added or anything like that. I’ll be out there on Sunday. I’ll be out there in practice [Thursday]. I am good.”
Through two games and a 1-1 record, Jackson is off to arguably the best start of his career, completing 64% of his passes for 531 yards and six touchdowns against one interception. He also ran for 136 yards and a touchdown. He faces a New England Patriots defense on Sunday that will be using Jackson as a measuring stick after holding the Miami Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mitchell Trubisky to one touchdown pass each during started 1-1.
Jackson’s versatility and skill level represent a much bigger challenge, which was never more evident than when Patriots coach Bill Belichick declared that he sees the Ravens quarterback as an MVP-level player who can throw from the pocket and eventually get paid like one . .
“Without a doubt, he’s the type of player, an MVP candidate type,” Belichick said of Jackson. “I think he has more than answered [questions about his ability as a pocket passer]. But, we’ll see what his contract is. That will answer [questions].”