Lamar Jackson will miss the Baltimore Ravens’ first week of organized team activities, marking the first time the former NFL MVP quarterback has not been present at voluntary spring training.
“We’ve walked this path many times over the years,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after Wednesday’s practice. “I’ll just let Lamar speak for himself. It’s for him to talk about. You can ask him.”
When asked if he was concerned about Jackson missing practice time, Harbaugh said, “It’s not my place to speak for anyone else. It’s up to him to speak about it for himself.”
Jackson stated on social media Tuesday that he was not present when the OTAs began, but gave no reason for his absence. He tweeted“Can’t wait to come back” with purple heart and rocket emojis.
Baltimore has eight remaining voluntary OTA practices as of mid-June. Jackson is required to attend only the team’s mandatory mini-camp, which is scheduled for June 14-16.
“If it was a training camp, it would be really bad,” said cornerback Marlon Humphrey. “I think as long as the guys are working, no matter where they are, that’s the biggest key. I spoke to Lamar earlier in the off-season. He said he will come soon.”
Ravens tight end Mark Andrews said he’s spoken to Jackson and knows how hard he works outside of the facility.
“He’s extremely motivated and extremely hungry,” said Andrews. “So there’s no worries over there. I know what he’s doing and we’re all working and doing our jobs here and preparing for him. We’re going to be ready and I’m confident he’ll be ready and showing everyone what he’s got and what kind of hunger he’s feeling right now.”
Jackson is stepping into his fifth-year option, which will net him $23.016 million this season. The Ravens are expected to franchise-tag him next offseason if teams can’t get overtime.
Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta has repeatedly said the team attempted long-term contract negotiations, but Jackson wasn’t interested. When asked about Jackson’s contract talks earlier this month, DeCosta said “not really anything has changed on that front.”
Jackson has tried to quell speculation that he wants to leave Baltimore. In March, he tweeted that he loves the Ravens, citing a “false narrative” that he was considering leaving the franchise.
Jackson’s absence comes as Baltimore is trying to recover from its first bottom finish in 15 years. He is familiar with the Ravens’ offense, having played under offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s system for the past three seasons. But Baltimore has one of the youngest groups of wide receivers in the NFL. None of the 12 receivers is older than 25 and none has played more than two seasons in the NFL.
Ravens officials have praised Jackson’s training outside of the facility. Jackson has thrown to wide receivers Rashod Bateman and James Proche in private passing sessions in Florida and California. He has also trained with throwing coach Adam Dedeaux.
“We’re getting great reports,” DeCosta said earlier this month. “We talk to him all the time. We check with him all the time. We talk to other players. I think – and I think coaches [John Harbaugh] feels like we’re ready to have a great year on offense.”
Jackson is coming off the most challenging season of his four-year career. Last season, he threw a career-worst 13 interceptions and was sacked 38 times. He missed the last four games with a right ankle injury. Jackson’s last full practice session with the Ravens was December 10.
With Jackson absent, the only other quarterbacks on the Ravens’ roster are Tyler Huntley and undrafted rookie Anthony Brown.