Lamar Jackson downplays absence from OTAs

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On the question of Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s absence from OTAs, coach John Harbaugh said as to Jackson, “It’s up to him to speak for himself.”

He has. Sort of.

Reacting to a snippet from our recent discussion of the situation on PFT Liveduring which Chris Simms made the case that if Jackson aspires to be this generation’s Tom Brady he should be there Jackson said this: “Lamar wants to be Lamar Chris. This part of OTAs is Voluntary my Guy I will be there, just not on your watch it’s probably other QBs not attending Voluntary OTAs either but since it’s Lamar it’s a huge deal. Find something else to talk about.”

We’ve discussed every starting quarterback who is absent from OTAs. Some are absent for business reasons. The two-time reigning MVP, Aaron Rodgers, is absent for no reason. (Rodgers was called out fairly aggressively on Friday’s PFT Live for not assisting with the effort to get the new-look receiving corps up to speed.)

With Jackson, the problem is less that he isn’t there and more that this is just the latest chapter in the mystery that Jackson has either deliberately or accidentally created. By persistently refusing to engage with a team that wants to make him one of the highest-paid players in NFL history, Jackson has confused many league insiders and observers. And if Jackson isn’t engaging with the team because he’s so committed to his craft, why isn’t he present for the offseason practices during which much of the offensive playbook for the coming season is installed?

It’s unconventional to the point of unprecedented. The Ravens want to pay him. He won’t talk to him about it. In so doing, he’s willingly accepting the risk that injury or ineffectiveness will make him less attractive to the Ravens or another team.

He insists he doesn’t want out. His actions suggest otherwise.

It’s great if he’s working with a personal mechanics coach. But these practices represent a handful of opportunities to work with the offense, which will be proceeding without Hollywood Brown in 2022, under the supervision and direction of the coaching staff. Lamar can, frankly, do both.

Finally, as to his request/demand that we “find something else to talk about,” we must respectfully decline his editorial advice. Lamar is a former MVP. He’s one of the most important players in the NFL. When he chooses not to show up for offseason practice, it’s newsworthy.

The comments Chris made about Jackson represent fair criticism, not trolling. Fair criticism is part of being a high-profile athlete in a high-profile sport.

It goes with the territory. Territory that will give generational wealth to Jackson. If he’ll simply reach in and grab it before the window closes, without warning.

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