Following up on this week's Team Notes
. ... As NFL.com's Nick Shook reminded readers, one of the biggest concerns regarding Lamar Jackson
entering the 2018 draft
was his long-term health.
The reason: Jackson's mobility, which has been an incredible tool for the Baltimore Ravens in his first season and a half, leaves him prone to more hits than the average, pocket-restrained passer.
In fact, he's listed as questionable on the Ravens' injury report this week due to a quadriceps injury, though he's likely to play tonight against the New York Jets.
In fact, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo advised his Twitter followers on Wednesday that Jackson drew the questionable designation "only because probable doesn’t exist anymore. He’ll be a go."
Jackson fully participated in Wednesday’s practice, a day after he was limited, and believes he's ready to put in a full night.
"If I have to be out there all four quarters, that's what it's going to be," Jackson said. "I'm not going in there thinking, 'I should sit out a little bit.' I'm trying to win the game, and that's what we're going into the Thursday night game looking at."
Oddly enough, Jackson sustained the injury while in the pocket, but naturally, it was on a touchdown pass to tight end Hayden Hurst
While Jackson torches the league with his arm and legs, defenses are left scrambling to find ways to stop this elite scrambler. According to one of his veteran teammates, Jackson needs to be wary of opposing defenses taking additional shots at his legs throughout the remainder of the 2019 campaign.
"Every time somebody hits him, like man, he don't need to be taking those hits," Ravens safety Earl Thomas said Tuesday. "I think the refs need to pay closer attention to that as well and protect him a little bit more. Because teams are trying to do -- I'm not saying they're trying to hurt Lamar -- but they're definitely going at his legs more than they were doing it at first."
Jackson broke 1,000 yards rushing in Sunday's close win over the Buffalo Bills to move the Ravens to 11-2 and officially lock up a playoff berth for the defending AFC North champions. He's tearing apart the opposition in part because of the offense built for him by coordinator Greg Roman, who has introduced pistol and spread concepts to take advantage of Jackson's legs, as well as his threat to run when the Ravens are actually looking to pass. Jackson has taken his share of hits, but he's also avoided them simply by making defenders miss and outrunning the rest.
That could result in some defensive desperation, such as the actions described by Thomas. How such a statement might affect officiating of Jackson's play is yet to be seen. As of now, there haven't been many examples of hits that stick out in the mind of an average NFL viewer, other than the missed tackle attempts that leave defenders helplessly flailing away from Jackson.
He still does get tackled frequently, though, which Thomas appreciates -- as long as they're clean.
"He's very durable. His toughness -- you can't question it," Thomas said. "He's taking a lot of hits. He's sacrificing his body for the team. I respect that."
Beyond Jackson, linebacker Chris Board is out for Thursday’s game with a concussion. Tackle Ronnie Stanley is doubtful, also with a concussion. Tight end Mark Andrews
(knee), safety Anthony Levine Sr. (ankle), and defensive end Jihad Ward (elbow) are questionable.
According to ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley, Andrews, Jackson's top target, is the biggest uncertainty after being limited the past two practices.
Meanwhile, the Ravens have by far the NFL’s most productive rushing attack this season, averaging more than 200 yards a game at a time when no other team is even averaging 150 yards a game.
But Baltimore may run into a difficult opponent with the Jets coming to town.
Although it hasn’t been a good season for the Jets, their run defense has been stellar. The Jets are allowing just 3.0 yards per carry, easily the best of any defense in the NFL. They’re also allowing first downs on just 16.6 percent of opponents’ rushing attempts, also the best in the NFL.
As Profootballtalk.com's Michael David Smith noted, the Jets have not, of course, faced a rushing attack anything at all like the Ravens.
Jackson is leading the team with 1,017 rushing yards, Mark Ingram
has 887 and Gus Edwards
has 480. As a team, the Ravens are averaging 5.5 yards per carry and no other team is even averaging 5.0; the Ravens lead the league in every single rushing stat: rushing attempts, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, rushing first downs, first down percentage, rushes longer than 20 yards and rushes longer than 40 yards.
"The Jets’ run defense may have looked to some opponents like an immovable object," Smith added, "but the Ravens may prove to be too much of an unstoppable force."