BALTIMORE — Lamar Jackson’s growth as a passer has been well documented through four weeks of Baltimore Ravens training camp.
On Thursday, in a 26-13 victory over the Green Bay Packers, the second-year quarterback made sure to send out a reminder he can still burn defenses with his legs, too.
Flushed from the pocket on a third-and-long play, the electric signal caller sprinted into the secondary, juked cornerback Tramon Williams and vaulted over diving defensive back Jaire Alexander at the goal line for an 18-yard touchdown late in the first quarter of the team’s second preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium.
While the highlight score was wiped off the board on a blocking penalty against receiver Willie Snead, the impressive run showcased just how dynamic Jackson will once again be with the ball in his hand.
“Basically it was what the defense gave me. They gave me the opportunity to run, squeezing off the edges, gave me the middle lane and I just took advantage,” Jackson said. “When I get on the field, one-on-one, I better make you miss. That’s just me, that’s how I’ve always played. If I get tackled by one person, I’m mad. I feel like I lost that play. If I’m not passing it, if I do decide to run, it better be for a touchdown or a first down.
“I’m not trying to get two yards and then get tackled. That’s not how I play. That’s not why I’m here.”
Despite his superstar speed, Jackson has spent significantly less practice time scorching the turf with his feet. Instead, he’s been attacking the Ravens’ decorated secondary through the air. It marks a major change from a year ago, when he piled up the third most rushing yards by a rookie quarterback in NFL history despite just starting six regular season contests.
“I believe his stature, his ability to be QB1, has really allowed him to have the confidence that he needs to go out there and showcase his talents. He really did have a Top 10 play today. Unfortunately, it was called back,” Ravens safety Tony Jefferson said. “Plays like that just show us his ability and what he can do and how special he is to this league. I’m so excited for him, just constant growth from that guy. He’s got the mature mindset and personality to overcome any defaults that he has.”
Although there’s a risk to scrambling with the football during an exhibition game, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh doesn’t want his starting quarterback to hold off rushing with the football.
“He’s in the pocket, and he’s staying in the pocket a lot. It’s not like he’s trying to run, but sometimes … What are you going to do? You can’t hold him back forever,” Harbaugh said. “He got out and you can see what he’s capable of doing once he gets out. People are going to really work hard to keep him in the pocket. That was good.
“The block by Willie is going to be a learning experience for us,” he added. “That was a little bit of a love tap, but that’s something that they want called if it’s done with a shoulder, forearm, elbow, anything like that. We’ll have to learn from that one.”
Through two preseason games, the Ravens have scored on four of the five possessions led by Jackson. In the team’s 29-0 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars a week ago, the former first-round pick opted not to rush the football, instead completing 4-of-6 passes for 59 yard and a touchdown over three possessions.
On Thursday, he converted 6 of 10 passes for 58 yards and added a pair of rushes for 14 yards.
In addition to a 42-yard field goal, Tucker also capped the opening drive with a 52-yard boot as the offense held the football for more than 10 minutes in the first quarter.
“We experienced that last year when Lamar took over. He was finishing whole quarters and we would only get to be out there once or twice. It definitely helps us, it keeps us fresh,” Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon said. “We’ve got a lot of time to go over and correct some stuff that we messed up and missed on the last snap. It helps. We’re fresh all the time, and we’re still rotating, so it definitely helps. Kudos to the offense for holding the ball.”
Follow Jordan Schatz on Twitter: @Jordan_Whig