The Ravens will play in their first regular season game at home on Sunday against the Bills. For rookies, this is often a magical time where they get to fully experience the sights and pageantry that come with an NFL game. For Baltimore rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, the excitement is definitely there.
“I don’t really have any emotions,” Jackson said about playing in his first NFL regular season game on Sunday. “I’m looking forward to it - I’m excited about it.”
Jackson has had to learn swiftly. In the Hall of Fame Game against the Chicago Bears, he was constantly chased by defensive linemen and linebackers. In college, Jackson would be able to outrun them, but things are much different in the NFL and Jackson has learned that in his short time as a pro.
“Learn fast, it’s a grown man’s game,” said Jackson. “That’s all so far.”
Jackson has had to learn a new role with the Ravens. Usually, he has lined up at quarterback, but he has played in other places. It’s all still fresh to the 21-year old and he wants to take it one step at a time.
“I’m pretty cool with it,” Jackson said. “I’m still learning - it’s just a learning process for me still. It’s a huge step for me coming into the league. So, I’m just sitting back learning as much as I can, until my number is called.”
Robert Griffin III made the team along with Jackson and Joe Flacco. For the first time in awhile, Baltimore will carry three quarterbacks. The reason is seemingly to help groom Jackson into the eventual starter. Learning from Griffin III is welcome from the 2016 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback.
“That’s pretty cool,” Jackson exclaimed. “Another Heisman winner in the house. So, yeah definitely [excited].”
Griffin III has been a big help to Jackson. As a fellow Heisman winner and a dual-threat quarterback, Griffin III has been like an older brother to Jackson. The elder Griffin III has been able to take Jackson under his wing to teach him the rights and wrongs of plays on the practice field and during games.
“Just going by certain plays and stuff like that,” Jackson said of Griffin III’s help. “If I mess up on a play, he’ll tell me where he would’ve went on a certain play and stuff like that.”
No one really knows if Jackson will play against the Bills. As things have gone with Baltimore’s offense during training camp, Jackson’s athleticism could be used in a number of different ways. He has lined up at several different places on the field, which could potentially be a headache for Buffalo’s defense to defend. Nonetheless, Jackson is looking forward to the opportunity of playing in his first regular season game.
“I’ll be very excited,” Jackson said. “I’m trying to score touchdowns - I’m trying to win the game.”
Jackson had an eye for the endzone during the preseason, scoring a total of six touchdowns during the preseason. During those games, Jackson faced a litany of players who didn’t make it on an NFL roster. Playing against a first-team pro defense will be different for the rookie.
“I don’t know - a few butterflies in my stomach,” said Jackson. “Can’t wait to get that first contact of a real - a true number one defense.”
Jackson had to come off of the bench a lot during the preseason, save for his lone start in the final game. The rookie still continued to get his work in and believes that he can be effective as the reserve quarterback or as a weapon on the offense.
“I had to deal with it during the preseason,” Jackson said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Jackson has had a steep learning curve as a rookie quarterback in the NFL. In addition to learning the entire offensive scheme, he has had to learn a hybrid position of quarterback/playmaker. The youngster feels that he has adequate knowledge of the playbook to do what is asked of him on Sunday.
“Absolutely,” Jackson said. “I’ve been preparing for it through the OTAs, rookie minicamp - I’m just good for it.”