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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Ravens’ Jackson masters art of winning while having fun

Wed Nov 13 4:24pm ET
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer

Players: Mark Ingram, Mark Andrews, Lamar Jackson, Marquise Brown

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) celebrates his touchdown during the second half of NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)


Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, center, laughs on the sidelines during the second half of NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)


Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson passes during the second half of NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)


Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs the ball for a touchdown against Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap (96) during the second half of NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)


OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) There are times when Lamar Jackson displays the style and exuberance of a youngster playing football on the street with friends.

Seemingly unaffected by the responsibility of being an NFL starting quarterback, Jackson relishes the opportunity to run, pass and match wits with opposing defenses. And when he's all done, the Baltimore Ravens star just might flip on a pair of sunglasses and pose on the sideline with his teammates.

Such was the case last Sunday, when the versatile Jackson achieved a perfect quarterback rating and peeled off a can't-top-this 47-yard touchdown run in a 49-13 rout of the Cincinnati Bengals.

For a new generation of NFL quarterbacks, staying in the pocket is merely an option.

''It's pretty cool,'' Jackson said Wednesday. ''We're just doing our thing: playing ball, having fun, doing what all of us did when we were just little kids.''

With Jackson as the driving force, the Ravens (7-2) have won five straight and established themselves as a Super Bowl contender. Now in his second season, the former Louisville standout is 13-3 as a starter and the focal point of a team that leads the league in scoring, rushing and with a 76.9% conversion rate on fourth down.

Jackson is the only player in NFL history to amass 2,000 yards passing and 700 yards rushing through a season's first nine games. In the high-stakes world of pro football, Jackson is keeping it low key.

''Obviously, Lamar is our leader. We follow him,'' tight end Mark Andrews said. ''He's done a great job of staying humble. With all the spotlight and the buzz and people kind of catching on to the type of player he can be, he's done a great job of staying true to himself and playing for his teammates.''

Jackson stepped out of character against the Bengals, grabbing a pair of sunglasses from head athletic trainer Ron Medlin and hamming it up in a hilarious photo with teammates Marlon Humphrey, Ron Stanley, Mark Ingram and Marquise Brown.

''When you're winning and guys are making plays, it's just contagious, the happiness, the joy,'' Ingram said. ''We all love playing football, we love winning and we love watching our teammates making plays. I don't know how we got those glasses on, but this team is a special group.''

And, to be sure, Jackson is a unique quarterback. His second perfect quarterback rating of the season (15 for 17, 223 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs) was impressive, but that 47-yard frolic through the Cincinnati defense might be the play that all past and future quarterback runs will be measured against.

Ingram was right there when it happened, and he's watched it so many times on film that he can describe the action from memory.

''It was crazy,'' Ingram said. ''He made the right read, got away from (defensive end) Carlos Dunlap, hit the safety, dead-legged him, three guys pursuing, he spun inside of them and then the acceleration just to get to the end zone. Yeah, you've got to go into the archives to see something better than that. It was wild.''

That was the Lamar Jackson that won the Heisman Trophy in 2016 and the one his mom appreciated from an early age.

''She just said I'm finally playing how I used to play,'' Jackson said.

Truth is, Jackson's improvement from his rookie year can be attributed to his prowess at passing. If a team dares to stack the line to make him throw, Jackson will gladly accept the invitation and make the defense pay.

''That's where hard work comes in. That's where dedication is,'' he said.

Jackson is the toast of Baltimore these days. The fans swarm him at shopping malls, fast-food joints, anywhere he might happen to be.

''Baltimore loves the players and we appreciate it. We love them back,'' Jackson said. ''So it's all good.''

Until it isn't.

''Football starts with the quarterback,'' coach John Harbaugh said. ''That's what he signed up for. That team has Lamar's back. But just as quickly as (the fans) pat you on the back, they're going to slice your Achilles just like that.''

Unless, of course, Jackson continues to improve. He is, after all, only 22 years old.

''He's just a special talent. Never complacent,'' Ingram said. ''He's only going to get better.''

Notes: The Ravens signed former Denver DT Domata Peko, who will turn 35 later this month and has not played this season. Peko, along with DT Justin Ellis (signed Tuesday), provide Baltimore with options if Michael Pierce (ankle) can't go Sunday against Houston. ... Baltimore released KR Cyrus Jones and placed rookie DT Daylon Mack (knee) on injured reserve.

Player Notes
Jameis Winston Apr 9 4:20pm ET

The Pittsburgh Steelers are unlikely to pursue free-agent quarterback Jameis Winston as a backup for Ben Roethlisberger in 2020. The Steelers could probably use an upgrade over either Mason Rudolph or Devlin Hodges behind Big Ben, but they also have former first-round pick Paxton Lynch on roster. Winston led the league with 5,109 passing yards in 2019, but he also led the NFL with 30 interceptions as his turnover-prone ways continued. The Bucs chose future Hall of Famer Tom Brady over him this offseason, and Winston's market has been pretty much non-existent since he hit the open market. The 26-year-old seems destined to be a backup somewhere in 2020, which leaves little room for fantasy value after he was a QB1 for most of last season.

From RotoBaller

Tom Brady Apr 9 4:10pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said that, "We have a lot of faith in Ronald Jones II. We have more faith in him than we ever have." Jones had a dreadful rookie season in 2018, but he was much better last year in a timeshare with Peyton Barber, running the ball 172 times for 724 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and six touchdowns in 16 games (nine starts). Barber is now gone, so theoretically Jones should have a bigger workload. However, he still leaves a lot to be desired with pass protection, and the Bucs must keep the pocket clean for new quarterback Tom Brady. Dare Ogunbowale is next up behind Jones, and the Bucs could address the position further in the draft. Jones' value will depend on who else is splitting time with him and if he can improve in pass protection, which will give him a chance to be on the field more during third downs.

From RotoBaller

Tua Tagovailoa Apr 9 4:10pm ET

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's (hip) doctors "have been very clear that Tua's health is fine. There's no recurrence that's going to happen here." Everything regarding Tagovailoa's rehab from a serious hip injury have been encouraging, and he's been given a clean bill of health by his doctors. Interested teams have a tougher time gathering information on injured prospects during the coronavirus shutdown, but his doctors and agents are doing everything they can to assure teams that he'll be ready to go without restrictions in 2020. Already a lock to go within the first 10 picks of this month's draft, his positive health outlook is making him a lock to be a top-five pick now, possibly as high as No. 3 if a team trades up with the Lions.

From RotoBaller

Jadeveon Clowney Apr 9 4:00pm ET

Free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is considering short-term deals after he's encountered a very cold market in free agency. Clowney has already dropped his asking price from $20 million per season, and now it looks like he's willing to accept a one- or two-year deal to re-establish his value as a pass-rusher. The Browns have shown interest in Clowney, and some around the league believe Cleveland got closer to signing him than any other team, but there remains nothing imminent. The 27-year-old is a nuisance in both the pass and run game when healthy, but he has a long injury history and has never had a double-digit sack season, which is why teams aren't giving into his demands this offseason. Plus, with the absence of physicals during the coronavirus pandemic, interested clubs aren't able to give Clowney a physical with their doctors.

From RotoBaller

Cam Newton Apr 9 3:50pm ET

Free-agent quarterback Cam Newton is willing to wait to pick a team, possibly until after the draft, in order to make sure the fit is right, according to a source close to him. There just aren't many teams looking for a starting quarterback right now, but things should become more clear after the draft. The Chargers and Patriots seem to be the best fits, but neither club has shown much, if any, interest in the former MVP. Part of the problem is that Newton has dealt with shoulder and foot injuries the last two days and teams are unable to conduct their own physicals with players. It's making things tougher on Newton on the open market. The dual-threat QB's stock is obviously down coming off injury and without a team, but he could bounce back in the right situation. Stay tuned.

From RotoBaller

Julian Edelman Apr 9 3:40pm ET

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman won't face prosecution after he was cited for misdemeanor vandalism in January, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. Edelman was arrested on Jan. 11 in Beverly Hills after jumping on the hood of a vehicle and causing damage. The owner has been fully compensated for the repair costs and has dropped any charges. The veteran wideout led the Patriots with 100 catches for 1,117 yards and six touchdowns in 2019, but his fantasy stock will go down with quarterback Tom Brady leaving in free agency. Edelman can still be useful in PPR leagues, but the consistency should suffer with either Jarrett Stidham or another QB throwing him the football next season.

From RotoBaller

Aldrick Rosas Apr 9 12:50pm ET

New York Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas signed his restricted free-agent contract on Thursday after the Giants previously made a second-round qualifying offer on March 16. The 2018 Pro Bowler has made 62 of 75 field-goal attempts (82.7 percent) and is 86-for-94 on extra points in 48 regular season games for the Giants. He made 32 of his 33 kicks in 2018, which was the fifth highest total in team history, and his 97 field-goal percentage was a Giants record. However, he attempted only 17 field goals in 2019 and made 12 of them, while making 35 of his 39 extra points. Until New York's offense proves worthy under second-year quarterback Daniel Jones, Rosas should be avoided in most fantasy leagues.

From RotoBaller

Devin Singletary Apr 9 12:40pm ET

Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary is at the top of the depth chart with Frank Gore gone, and general manager Brandon Beane thinks that Singletary can be the team's workhorse in the backfield if needed. Singletary averaged over 5.0 yards per carry last year but didn't become the lead running back until the second half of the season in his rookie year. Beane thinks that Singletary's hamstring injury early last year cost him a chance at 1,000 yards rushing. I think Devin can do either or. Hes an unselfish player, Beane said. If we want him to be the workload guy, I think he could definitely do it. I think Year Two is going to be better for him. T.J. Yeldon currently is the No. 2 behind Singletary, but the Bills could easily add a running back at some point in the draft to share the load with Singletary.

From RotoBaller

Gerald Everett Apr 9 12:40pm ET

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay is excited about the possibilities for tight end Gerald Everett in 2020, and the team wants to get him more involved in the offense. Everett started the year hot but got hurt in Week 11, which allowed Tyler Higbee to go off in the final five games of the season to finish with 69 catches for 734 yards and three touchdowns. It was the best season for a Rams tight end. "Really, really excited about what Gerald Everetts going to do," McVay said. "I think Tyler Higbee did a phenomenal job, but I think Gerald Everetts a guy that Ive got to do a better job of utilizing his skill set because hes a difference-maker." The former second-round pick has plenty of talent, but it remains to be seen if he can break out with Higbee also involved. Higbee will be the preferred fantasy target as a low-end TE1, but Everett is still worth a late-round selection as an intriguing TE2 with upside for more.

From RotoBaller

Tua Tagovailoa Apr 9 12:30pm ET

The Detroit Lions, who have the No. 3 overall pick in this month's draft, have had discussions with teams about potentially moving back from their slot, according to sources. Teams wanting to move up to third overall have been receptive, and they'd likely be moving up to select a quarterback. If the Lions don't move back, they're expected to address the defense with the third overall pick, but a package of picks to move back might be too tempting to pass on, depending what other teams are offering them. Now that Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa looks to be recovered from his hip injury, interested teams might want to move up to No. 3 overall to select him.

From RotoBaller

Bryan Edwards Apr 9 12:20pm ET

South Carolina wide receiver Bryan Edwards (foot), who fractured the fifth metatarsal before the NFL Combine, had his walking boot removed and is moving around well, according to sources. Teams were sent updated images and scans of Edwards, who is expected to come off the board on Day 2 of the draft as the Gamecocks all-time leader in catches. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder had 234 receptions for 3,045 yards (13.0 yards per catch) and 22 touchdowns in his four seasons at South Carolina. It doesn't look like his draft stock will be negatively affected now that he's getting back to full health in what is a loaded draft class for wide receivers.

From RotoBaller

DeAndre Washington Apr 9 10:29am ET

The Kansas City Chiefs agreed to an undisclosed one-year deal with running back DeAndre Washington on Wednesday, according to a source. Washington was drafted in the fifth round by the Raiders back in 2016 and has rushed the ball 282 times for 1,122 yards (4.0 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns in his four years in the NFL. He's also added 88 catches on 110 targets for 613 yards and another score in 55 career games (five starts). The 27-year-old had 108 rushing attempts for 387 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games last year (three starts). He'll provide depth for the Chiefs backfield behind Damien Williams while also competing for touches with Darwin Thompson and Darrel Williams. He finds himself in an even more crowded backfield, meaning that it's unlikely Washington will yield any fantasy help.

Gerald Everett Apr 9 8:43am ET

Los Angeles Rams TE Gerald Everett is a player that head coach Sean McVay said he has to do a better job of utilizing. 'Really, really excited about what Everett's going to do,' McVay said. 'I think Tyler Higbee did a phenomenal job, but I think Everett's a guy that I've got to do a better job of utilizing his skill set because he's a difference-maker. But he's got to get the opportunities and I think that starts with some of the things I know I can do a better job of.'

Fantasy Spin: Everett was a TE1 for a big chunk of the season last year before a knee injury did him in. That allowed Tyler Higbee to break out in a monstrous way. Everett will be victim to a numbers game often, but he'll still be a TE2 or a bye-week filler in 2020.

From TheHuddle

Kenyan Drake Apr 8 10:43pm ET

Arizona Cardinals RBs Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds have head coach Kliff Kingsbury 'really excited' about the first two spots on the depth chart, but Kingsbury told a group of reporters in a videoconference on Tuesday, April 7, that he'd like to have three running backs 'that we feel like we could roll through and not lose much.'

Fantasy Spin: While this could be an indication Kingsbury wants to use a three-man committee, it's more than likely a realization that he wants to be deep at a position that was ravaged by injuries in 2019. Drake did more than enough after arriving via trade at midseason to warrant at least 15 touches per week and should be considered a low-end RB1 for fantasy purposes. Edmonds also performed well before getting hurt and should be considered Drake's high-upside handcuff.

From TheHuddle

Dre Kirkpatrick Apr 8 7:53pm ET

Free-agent CB Dre Kirkpatrick (Bengals) has received some interest from the Minnesota Vikings.

From TheHuddle

Kenyan Drake Apr 8 7:30pm ET

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said that the team would like to have three running backs sharing the load in 2020. "D.J. was banged up last year," Kingsbury said. "We think he has a good skill set. But that's an area that we'd like to have three. You saw we got to (using) a third (running back in 2019). We'd like to have three that we feel like we could roll through and not lose much." Kenyan Drake, who signed his transition tender, will see the majority of touches, but Chase Edmonds and D.J. Foster will also get some work. Drake was one of the best running backs in the league after his trade over from the Dolphins, and he'll be a coveted RB1 in fantasy circles with Arizona's offense looking more explosive with the addition of receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Edmonds will merely be a handcuff for those that take Drake early in drafts.

From RotoBaller

A.J. Green Apr 8 7:03pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals franchise free-agent WR A.J. Green (ankle) has completely recovered from his ankle injury and is working out in Atlanta, according to head coach Zac Taylor.

Fantasy Spin: Green has only played nine games over the last two seasons, but he appears to be on track for the 2020 season. He is a risky option because of his injury history but can be a weekly starting option in all leagues if he is healthy.

From TheHuddle

DeAndre Washington Apr 8 6:43pm ET

Free-agent RB DeAndre Washington (Raiders) agreed to terms on one-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs Wednesday, April 8, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

From TheHuddle

Jack Crawford Apr 8 6:33pm ET

Updating a previous report, free-agent DE Jack Crawford (Falcons) officially signed with the Tennessee Titans Wednesday, April 8. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.

From TheHuddle

Demarcus Robinson Apr 8 6:33pm ET

Updating a previous report, free-agent WR Demarcus Robinson (Chiefs) officially re-signed with the Kansas City Chiefs Wednesday, April 8. Official terms of the contract were not disclosed.

From TheHuddle