OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The number of media showing up each week at Ravens practice continues to grow, much like the momentum of quarterback Lamar Jackson’s Most Valuable Player candidacy.
But as they met with a media throng before practice Nov. 13, Jackson’s teammates said his success — including his second consecutive AFC Player of the Week Award and the national buzz that accompanied his dazzling touchdown run that is seemingly on an endless loop — have not altered the second-year quarterback’s mind-set.
“He’s done a great job of staying humble,” said tight end Mark Andrews, who has become Jackson’s top receiver with 44 catches for 523 yards. “He’s done a great job of staying true to himself and playing for his teammates.”
Jackson earned plenty of attention as the Heisman Trophy winner at Louisville, and he is very much back in the national spotlight as an MVP candidate after sparking the Ravens (7-2) to a five-game winning streak. The Ravens host the Houston Texans (6-3) at M&T Bank Stadium in a matchup with major playoff implications.
Running back Mark Ingram said Jackson lets much of the noise dissipate around him, but there’s no question that Jackson remains fueled by critics who questioned his ability to translate his college game to the NFL.
“He doesn’t care, really. He doesn’t really care what people say,” Ingram said. “He remembers when people counted him out, doubted him. … He’s humble and focused. He’s focused on improving and getting better.”
Former GM Bill Polian issued a very public mea culpa last week, admitting he was wrong to say before the 2018 draft that Jackson’s NFL future would have to be as a wide receiver.
Jackson this past week became the second player in NFL history with more than one perfect passer rating in a single season, and he has completed 65.9 percent of his passes (168-255) for 2,036 yards, with 15 touchdowns and five interceptions.
He is also on pace to set an NFL record for rushing yardage by a quarterback. Through nine games, Jackson has carried 106 times for 702 yards and six touchdowns.
“We’re all doing out thing to make sure we can make his job easier,” Ingram added.
Head coach John Harbaugh, whose sideline interaction with Jackson during the win against Cincinnati went viral, said Jackson remains unfazed by the attention and success, which they envisioned when they jumped back into the first round of the 2018 draft to select the former Heisman Trophy winner and then set about rebuilding their offense to match his dynamic skill-set.
“You know what? He’s the quarterback,” Harbaugh said. “… Football starts with the quarterback. We know that. He knows that. That’s what he signed up for, and I believe he’s prepared for it.”
“You changed the game, man.”
“You changed the game, man.”
Coach Harbaugh’s sideline convo with @Lj_era8 at Cincinnati: pic.twitter.com/RR5buBCK3X
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 11, 2019
JACKSON EARNS AFC WEEKLY HONOR AGAIN: Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has been named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for the second straight week and third time this season.
Jackson earned the honor after leading the Ravens to a 49-13 win against the Cincinnati Bengals with a perfect passer and a 47-yard touchdown run for the ages. Jackson completed 15 of 17 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns and ran seven times for 65 yards, including his juking, spinning 47-yard touchdown run that left his own teammates in awe.
“We all watched it a few times on the bus, and I don’t think you’re ever going to see something like that again,” Hurst said. “… I’m really just in awe of him, and it’s fun being on the field at the same time with him.”
PEKO SIGNED, MACK MOVES TO IR: The Ravens announced the signing of veteran defensive lineman Domata Peko, and in a corresponding roster move rookie defensive lineman Daylon Mack was placed on injured reserve (knee/hip).
Peko, who turns 35 this month, played 11 seasons for the Cincinnati Bengals and then was with the Denver Broncos for the past two years.
Peko and Justin Ellis, signed Nov. 12, join a Ravens defensive front that could be without Michael Pierce this week as he deals with an ankle injury sustained early in the win against the Bengals.
Harbaugh said Ellis and Peko are “very good players, guys we’re excited to have. … They make us a stronger football team.”
PIERCE MISSES PRACTICE: As expected, defensive lineman Michael Pierce missed practice with an ankle injury. Harbaugh has called him “day to day,” but the signing of two defensive linemen this week suggests the injury could linger.
The other Ravens absent from the open portion from the practice could be receiving veteran days off: running back Mark Ingram, safety Earl Thomas, cornerback Jimmy Smith and cornerback Brandon Carr.
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox