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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Lamar Jackson settles in as Ravens starting quarterback

Thu Jun 13 2:02pm ET
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer

Players: Joe Flacco, Justin Tucker, Lamar Jackson

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson throws a pass at the team's NFL football training facility in Owings Mills, Md., Wednesday, June 12, 2019 (AP Photo/Gail Burton)


Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, center, shakes hands with Marquise Brown after workouts at the team's NFL football training facility in Owings Mills, Md., Wednesday, June 12, 2019 (AP Photo/Gail Burton)


Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III, right, passes as Lamar Jackson points during drills at the team's NFL football training facility in Owings Mills, Md., Wednesday, June 12, 2019 (AP Photo/Gail Burton)


Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson catches a football during practice at the team's NFL football training facility in Owings Mills, Md., Wednesday, June 12, 2019 (AP Photo/Gail Burton)


OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) It's been a year since Lamar Jackson arrived at his first NFL minicamp, fully understanding that his stature as a former Heisman Trophy winner and first-round draft pick didn't guarantee a lick of playing time during the regular season.

Former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco was the Baltimore Ravens starting quarterback, so Jackson immediately settled into backup role while he got a handle on a brand of football that was unlike anything he had experienced before.

''I would say I was kind of startled just being in the league,'' Jackson recalled Wednesday. ''Growing up, hearing all the things about when you go in the league, this and that is going to happen. Or the game is totally different, it's a lot faster.''

Jackson was too quick, elusive and talented to be buried on the bench, so he was used periodically on Sundays until Nov. 18, when he started in place of an injured Flacco and started the Ravens on a 6-1 hot streak that enabled them to reach the postseason as AFC North champions.

Flash forward to this week, when a much more poised and confident Jackson led the offense during the three-day mandatory minicamp.

''Right now it's pretty calm to me,'' Jackson said. ''Playing in those seven games being around my teammates, it's been pretty good.''

Jackson performed so well last season that the Ravens traded Flacco and decided they would rewrite the playbook and build the entire team around a former University of Louisville star who has proven to be equally effective at the next level.

''You build around your players, nobody more so than your quarterback,'' coach John Harbaugh said. ''You identify who your quarterback is going to be for the long term, which we've done, we need to build everything around what he can do. Offense, defense, even special teams are built with that in mind. What type of team are we going to be, based on the skill set of the quarterback?''

Baltimore intends to use the same philosophy that proved so successful a year ago. The offense relied heavily on the run, led by Jackson's impromptu downfield bursts. If a long drive didn't end in a touchdown, standout kicker Justin Tucker almost unfailingly slammed through a field goal.

The league's top-ranked defense did its share by making sure the Ravens would prevail in low-scoring games.

The expectation this year is that Baltimore will benefit from Jackson's experience.

''He's a much better player than he was a year ago,'' Harbaugh said. ''And he will be a much better player at the end of training camp than he is right now.''

Jackson's maturity was evident in the huddle this week.

''From a leadership standpoint, he's doing really well,'' tackle Ronnie Stanley said.

There remains a measure of concern about Jackson's ability to throw from the pocket - he's surpassed 200 yards in only one game - but offensive coordinator Greg Roman is certain the 22-year-old will be flinging the ball with accurately and authority this season.

''Lamar is the kind of guy that, the more he does something, he's going to get better at it,'' Roman said.

Player Notes
Chester Rogers Aug 9 10:00am ET

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Jarvis Landry Aug 8 5:10pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: The absences vault Preston Williams and Grant into the starting lineup, potentially, and Grant could be in the slot. Williams has more upside of the two, but he's coming off an ACL tear. Grant is a WR5 candidate that will need a good camp to hold a final roster spot in fantasy.

From TheHuddle

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From RotoBaller

Mike Williams Aug 7 11:13pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Although he scored just twice, Williams is coming off a 2019 season when he set career highs in catches and yards and led the NFL with 20.4 yards per reception. Losing Philip Rivers at quarterback isn't ideal, but Williams' big-play ability allows him to turn a couple of catches into a big performance. He is still worth grabbing as a WR3.

From TheHuddle

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Fantasy Spin: While Cooks may not be concerned, fantasy owners have to be a little worried if Cooks will be available for a full season. He has delivered WR2 production for a majority of his career, but between the concussion issues and changing teams over the offseason, he is a more palatable option as a WR3.

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Fantasy Spin: McKinnon has missed consecutive seasons while recovery from a knee injury, but he will rejoin the backfield in 2020. It sounds like he could carve out a role on passing downs, but for now, he is a late-round flier in PPR formats, at best.

From TheHuddle

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From TheHuddle

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From RotoBaller

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