Har­baugh would like to see more Lamar Jack­son in Ravens of­fense

Cecil Whig - - RAVENS - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ jschatz@ce­cil­whig.com Fol­low Jor­dan Schatz on Twit­ter:@Jor­dan_Whig

— Rookie quar­ter­back Lamar Jack­son couldn’t have been more wide open.

With the Bal­ti­more Ravens fac­ing third-and-goal from the op­po­si­tion’s 5-yard line on the sec­ond drive of the open­ing quar­ter, Joe Flacco dropped back to pass and ze­roed in on John Brown near the back of the end zone, fir­ing a throw that sailed well out of reach of the well-cov­ered re­ceiver.

He never saw Jack­son, in on the play as a re­ceiver, who had broke into mo­tion prior to the snap and was hov­er­ing near the far py­lon with arms raised and not a de­fender within five yards.

“We were kind of rush­ing around there. It didn’t get off per­fect, and he’s the last guy out of prob­a­bly five guys out there any­ways,” Flacco said of his pro­gres­sion on the in­com­plete pass. “It’s one of those where maybe you wish you had ex­tended the play and ended up see­ing it late.”

The Ravens, who even­tu­ally fell to the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers 23-16 on Sun­day at M&T Bank Sta­dium, set­tled for a 23-yard field goal, de­liv­er­ing an early 3-0 ad­van­tage with just over five min­utes re­main­ing in the first quar­ter.

“I could’ve called his name but the crowd was loud,” Jack­son said. “I was open, but you can’t blame it on the quar­ter­back. He was go­ing through his reads. I was a late op­tion, a last re­sort. In prac­tice, I wasn’t open for it. It wasn’t de­signed for me.”

While that par­tic­u­lar play may have been set up to dis­tract the de­fense rather than in­clude Jack­son as a pass catcher, Sun­day still marked the most that the rookie quar­ter­back has been used as a mem­ber of the start­ing of­fense in a sin­gle game all sea­son. The Ravens (4-5), who drafted the the for­mer Heis­man-win­ning quar­ter­back with the 32nd over­all pick in April’s NFL Draft, have steadily in­creased Jack­son’s in­volve­ment

BAL­TI­MORE

ev­ery week, tak­ing ad­van­tage of the rookie’s stand­out speed and on-field de­ci­sion mak­ing.

By the time he broke the hud­dle to line up at re­ceiver late in the first quar­ter, he had al­ready been in­volved in five of fen­sive plays through the game’s open­ing 10 min­utes. Each time, he ei­ther handed the ball off or rushed the ball him­self, while Flacco lined up far away from the ac­tion.

“I don’t think it’s coun­ter­pro­duc­tive be­cause we’re gain­ing yards and mak­ing plays. I would like to find more of it, to be hon­est with you. I would like to see him out there more and find ways to get him on the field more, if we can,” Bal­ti­more Ravens head coach John Har­baugh said. “He’s a good player.”

Jack­son later moved the chains on a sec­ond-down pass play mid­way through the third quar­ter, con­nect­ing with re­ceiver Michael Crab­tree on a cross­ing route that picked up a dozen yards and guided the Ravens to just out­side the red zone. Seven plays later, Alex Collins gal­loped into the end zone from one yard out to record Bal­ti­more’s only touch­down of the af­ter­noon.

On that play, both Flacco and left guard Alex Lewis lined up as re­ceivers on the left side of Jack­son — per­haps the most unique play call yet that Bal­ti­more of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Marty Morn­hin­weg has cooked up in an ef­fort to uti­lize both quar­ter­backs at once and dis­rupt op­pos­ing de­fenses.

“Give him the ball. You can see how ath­letic the kid is,” Lewis said Jack­son. “There’s noth­ing re­ally I can do lin­ing up at re­ceiver, I’m just out there to dis­tract, but we’ve got a great pack­age with Lamar. The zone reads, the RPO, he’s got a great arm, he’s shifty on his feet. I’m look­ing for­ward to what he can re­ally do.”

Jack­son fin­ished the con­test hav­ing di­rectly been in­volved in a dozen plays. He tal­lied the lone pass com­ple­tion, picked up 10 yards rush­ing on five car­ries and even fin­ished with one tar­get, af­ter Flacco threw in­com­plete to him just three plays be­fore Collins’ rush­ing touch­down.

“The Saints came in here a cou­ple weeks ago and put their two quar­ter­backs out there 24 times, I think. Whether that’s some­thing we do in the fu­ture, we’ll have to de­cide,” Har­baugh said. “Our of­fen­sive coaches do a good job of work­ing through that stuff.”

NICK WASS/AP PHOTO

Bal­ti­more Ravens quar­ter­back Lamar Jack­son (8) rushes the ball in the first half of Sun­day’s 23-16 loss to the vis­it­ing Pitts­burgh Steel­ers.

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