As the reigning league Most Valuable Player, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson surely noted the bank-breaking, half-billion-dollar contract signed this summer by Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
At his first news conference of training camp July 29, Jackson stressed that he knows what it would take to generate a similar deal for himself.
“I just gotta win me a Super Bowl,” Jackson said. “I don’t really focus on what he has going on, because I still gotta prove myself. When that time comes, then we can negotiate, after the Super Bowl. Until then, I’m focused on winning.”
Jackson, 23, has done a whole lot of winning during his two-year Ravens career, with a 19-3 record as a regular-season starter. But Jackson is 0-2 in the playoffs, and that playoff blemish also came up, as it is likely to do at various points this year regardless of how the regular season unfolds.
“Our job is to focus on the Cleveland Browns right now,” Jackson said, referring to the Ravens’ Week 1 opponent. “I can’t really dwell on the playoffs. … When we get back to the playoffs, then we’ll go from there.”
Jackson began his media session by expressing condolences to the family of Baltimore superfan Mo Gaba, the 14-year-old who died the previous night after a lifelong battle with cancer. During the next 20 minutes, Jackson touched on the unusual nature of this pandemic-altered training camp, the strength he sees in the Ravens offense and how he hopes to improve on a record-breaking, MVP season.
Showing off a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer nearby, Jackson noted he has tested negative on every COVID-19 test — “I didn’t have any corona, not one tick in me” — and said that the Ravens are doing everything they can to run a successful training camp given the new NFL protocols.
Ravens rookies and quarterbacks reported last week for mandatory, multiple COVID-19 tests, and they needed negative results to gain admission to the facility. Ravens veterans are undergoing COVID-19 testing this week, and full-team workouts — subject to social distancing requirements and other limitations in place this summer — cannot begin until next week when that testing is finished.
“I don’t really deal with anyone outside of my guys. … I’m the new bubble boy,” Jackson said.
Jackson said that when he wasn’t on the Florida beach flashing moves that showed up on Instagram – “I did not run into a jet ski. I jumped over the set ski.” — he worked on his deep passing game and out routes as offseason points of emphasis. Jackson also noted how strong second-year receiver Marquise Brown looked during their workouts together in Florida.
“He was hurt last year … but he went out there and battled his tail off each and every game on a messed up foot,” Jackson said, “and now his full potential is going to show this year.”
Jackson also had high praise for the Ravens’ stable of running backs, all three of whom return from a team that set the NFL record with 3,296 rushing yards last season. The Ravens also added Ohio State back J.K. Dobbins in the second round of the draft.
“We got great running backs,” Jackson said, “We’re going to be pretty good with the rushing part.”
Of course, Jackson was a huge part of that rushing record, as he carried 176 times for 1,206 yards, both records for an NFL quarterback. He said he doesn’t expect to run as often this season, but he isn’t done running either, so more highlight-reel runs such as the Cincinnati spin-move for the ages could be coming.
“If I have to, if a play breaks down, or no one’s open,” Jackson said, “then I’ll do my thing.”
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens