OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson expressed disbelief and frustration when he learned he had tested positive for COVID-19 a second time, but in his first news conference of training camp, he remained noncommittal about getting the COVID vaccine and reiterated that it is a “personal decision.”
“I got to talk to my team doctors, and try to see how they feel about it,” Jackson said after practice Aug. 9. “I’m going to keep learning as much as I can about it and go from there.”
Jackson had to miss the first eight practices of training camp after testing positive for COVID-19 just before camp began. According to the NFL COVID protocols this year, unvaccinated players must self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days before being cleared to return to the field, while vaccinated players can return after two negative tests 24 hours apart.
Unvaccinated players also face other limitations in terms of contact with teammates and coaches, and they are subject to daily testing.
Head coach John Harbaugh has said that more than 90 percent of Ravens players are vaccinated, but Jackson and running back Gus Edwards both had to self-isolate for the first 10 days of training camp after testing positive.
Jackson missed one game last year after testing positive for COVID-19 in November, but he disputed the idea that having an unvaccinated quarterback puts a team at a competitive disadvantage, as some have suggested.
“I’m just going to follow NFL protocols as much as I can, as best as I can” Jackson said. “I’m not worried about it. Last year, [when] I came off COVID I felt like we did pretty good, and this year, I’m trying to do the same thing.”
Jackson was one of nine starters and 17 Ravens on the reserve/COVID-19 list for the Ravens’ 19-14 loss at Pittsburgh last year. The game was rescheduled from Thanksgiving night to Wednesday, Dec. 2, after a COVID outbreak hit the Ravens’ locker room.
Jackson said that just as was the case last year, he dealt with significant fatigue while sick with COVID-19. He said he tried to take part in team meetings virtually while in self-isolation, but acknowledged that he spent a lot of time sleeping. Jackson said when able, he tried to stay sharp during his 10-day isolation period by throwing to his cousins in his backyard.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said last week that “the train has left the station,” and Jackson would need to play catch-up once he returned to the field. Jackson said he is trying to ramp up and make up for lost time but sounded confident that he would do that.
The missed practice time has cut into Jackson’s preseason time with a significantly new receivers group that includes veteran Sammy Watkins and rookies Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace.
“I hope coaches think I’m doing well, hope my teammates think I’m doing well,” Jackson said. “I’m just trying to catch up as best as I can as fast as I can.”
On the field, Jackson was a little off with his timing at the Aug. 9 practice, particularly in a two-minute period. He primarily made underneath throws in full-team drills, and one of his best throws came when he looked off a receiver on the sideline and fired a strike to James Proche down the middle. Jackson and Andrews connected on a seam route during a 7-on-7 period when Andrews elevated for an acrobatic, one-handed grab.
During a two-minute drill session with a live clock, Jackson effectively moved the Ravens down the field, completing passes to Devin Duvernay, Andrews and Tylan Wallace. But in the red zone, Jackson threw low to Andrews, and then threw incomplete behind Sammy Watkins in the end zone as time expired.
One of Jackson’s best throws came in an entertaining 1-on-1 period between receivers and defensive backs. Jackson lofted a deep ball on target to Duvernay, who had gotten a step on cornerback Davontae Harris.
“Now that I’m back, I’m feeling good,” Jackson said, smiling and looking relaxed after the two-hour workout. “When I was at home, I wasn’t doing too good, because I was missing my guys. I’m watching highlights on Instagram and Twitter and I’m like, ‘I wish I was out there. They’re looking good!'”
“I’m like, ‘I need to get back out there with my guys,” he added, “so I’m just happy to be back.”
TRAINING CAMP NOTEBOOK
T RONNIE STANLEY RETURNS TO THE FIELD: All-Pro tackle Ronnie Stanley made his first appearance of training camp as he continues to recover from the ankle injury that ended his 2020 season last Nov. 1. Stanley took part in about 30 minutes of individual work with the offensive linemen before heading back into the locker room. “I think we were hoping for right around now,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s certainly very much on schedule.”
C BRADLEY BOZEMAN LEAVES EARLY: Although Stanley returned, starting center Bradley Bozeman left practice early, though Harbaugh said it was “precautionary, not serious,” and described it as “a little strain.”
CALAIS CAMPBELL, PERNELL MCPHEE ABSENT: Veterans Calais Campbell and Pernell McPhee were among the players not practicing Aug. 9, though that could have been the case of veterans getting a rest day as the Ravens ramp up with four straight practice days leading up to the preseason opener against New Orleans at M&T Bank Stadium Aug. 14.
Wide receiver Marquise Brown (leg) remained sidelined as well, though he did a lot of sprint and speed work on an adjacent field and appeared to be moving well. Receiver Miles Boykin (hamstring) remained sidelined, but rookie receiver Rashod Bateman was back on the field after missing the past two practices.
Other absences included wide receiver Deon Cain (undisclosed), tight end Nick Boyle (knee), tackle Ja’Wuan James (Achilles), guard Kevin Zeitler (foot), cornerback Jimmy Smith (ankle) and cormerback Nigel Warrior (knee).
RAVENS SIGN WR SIAOSI MARINER, RELEASE TE JAKE BREELAND: The Ravens have added wide receiver Siaosi Mariner to the 90-man roster. Mariner, who played collegiately at Utah and then Utah State, had been with the Ravens previously on a tryout basis. To make room on the roster, the Ravens waived tight end Jake Breeland, who had been signed as an undrafted rookie in 2020 but never fully recovered from a knee injury sustained in college. He never practiced with the Ravens.
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