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Lamar Jackson looked “better than expected” in training camp debut

The former league MVP made his triumphant return from his second bout with COVID-19 and didn’t disappoint.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Training Camp Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens had to go through the first week-and-a-half of their 2021 training camp without their best and most dynamic player on the field for practice. Franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson contracted COVID-19 for the second time in nine months the day before the full team was supposed to reconvene for the first training camp practice.

The progression of the Ravens’ offense wasn’t completely halted by his absence, as his backups did their best to give the defense honest looks and help the passing game develop. However, after being activated from the COVID-19 Reserve List on Friday, the wait for Jackson’s return was over.

Head Coach John Harbaugh thought he looked “really good” and was pleasantly surprised by what he saw from his star signal-caller during Saturday’s open practice — considering the adversity he just overcame.

“I would say he looked even better than I expected him to coming off 10 days away,” Harbaugh said. “COVID is tough. He had a lot of symptoms. It speaks to how well he prepared himself during that time. He came out and practiced well.”

According to reports, Jackson picked up where he left off at the end of the offseason program with good accuracy throwing the ball. While the defense was able to relentlessly rush and rattle Trace McSorley and Tyler Huntley earlier this week, Jackson was able to use his legs decisively to elude pressure and pick up positive yardage in the reps he took.

The Ravens aren’t going to overwork Jackson while he gets caught up to speed but they also have no intentions of slowing down while he does.

“We’re just going to keep the train moving,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve stuck with our install; the guys have responded very well, and we’re staying right on schedule.”

Even though he couldn’t be on the field or in the building with his teammates or physically do much while he was recovering, Jackson stayed as engaged as best he could by attending meetings virtually and staying in contact with his position coach.

“He was in touch with [quarterbacks coach James] Coach Urban. He was in meetings when he could be and when he was able to be,” said Harbaugh. “Conditioning to the degree he was able to – not a lot, especially early, [but] toward the end a little bit. He got hit pretty hard with the symptoms.”

The Ravens’ first preseason game won’t take place until next Saturday and their first regular-season game is still over a month away. Jackson will have plenty of time to get up to speed, more accumulated with his remodeled offensive line, and build better chemistry with his upgraded group pass catchers.