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Should Baltimore Ravens play Lamar Jackson in preseason

By Ashley Anderson

Baltimore Ravens fans were overjoyed on Saturday when Lamar Jackson returned to the field after missing eight practices. The former MVP admitted that Covid-19 caused him fatigue, but he insisted that was behind him. Fans have since been treated to videos of their star quarterback slinging dimes to his favorite receivers in camp. Now, the looming question is whether he should suit up Saturday against the New Orleans Saints. Some may ask if he should play during the preseason at all.

Baltimore Ravens option 1: Shut Lamar Down

Those who favor health over on-field reps would argue that Jackson should not play at all during the preseason. With an 18-game regular-season slate looming, it is more crucial than ever to stay in top shape. The Cincinnati Bengals are taking a conservative approach with Joe Burrow as he returns from injury. In Dallas, the Cowboys are being similarly cautious with Dak Prescott.

All things considered, Jackson has stayed remarkably healthy during his career. At this point, the biggest concern seems to be how well he will bounce back from his second bout with Covid-19. In-game action could be a bit too much this week, given the missed time. As such, the Ravens may choose to keep their quarterback in a relative bubble until Week 1.

The flip side to that is the value of those on-field reps. If Jackson goes into Las Vegas having not played in a game since January, he could be extremely rusty. That alone may lead to injury or fatigue if he is forced to ramp things up from zero to 100 with no preseason action.


Baltimore Ravens option 2: Sit Lamar Out This Week Only

The Baltimore Ravens also have the option of looking at things on a week-to-week basis. They could choose to play it safe against New Orleans and rest Jackson but reevaluate his readiness to play against the Carolina Panthers. Doing so will allow them to protect Jackson without potentially costing him valuable playing time.

As Jackson gets more up-to-speed in training camp, his body should be ready for the challenge of taking on opponents. To help knock off the rust and get him ready to take on the Raiders come September 13th, they may elect to play him for a series or two in Carolina. In fact, given the two-week gap between the final preseason game and Week 1, they could even give him some time against the Washington Football Team.

On the other hand, any time your starters take the field in meaningless games, they are risking injury for what amounts to nothing. Baltimore already has two joint practices scheduled with the Panthers. Those will basically give Jackson the same feel as a preseason game, so he does not need to play.

Baltimore Ravens option 3: Get Jackson on the Field

Live reps are invaluable, especially to a quarterback who is developing chemistry with new receivers. Jackson insists he feels fine after fending off Covid-19, and the Ravens should trust that he knows his body. The only way to get fully up to speed is to get on the field.

Jackson is extremely competitive, so he would likely be unhappy if he is told he cannot suit up this week. He said it himself that practice makes perfect, and he is working towards some pretty big goals. With new receivers looking to get acclimated, Jackson needs to be playing.

The Ravens can still be somewhat conservative and play him for just a series or two. Preseason scores get wiped away in September, so the main objective is to get guys comfortable. If Jackson is still feeling good after a few reps, maybe Coach Harbaugh decides to let him play a full quarter. Any amount of time working with his upgraded toys is a plus.

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As discussed above, the drawback to that is the potential for injury. If, goodness forbid, Jackson was to get hurt in a meaningless game, the critics would surely lose their minds. It would also make for a pretty long season in Baltimore.

At the end of the day, the Ravens coaching staff is going to do what they feel is best for the whole team. I suspect Jackson may see little to no action against the Saints but potentially get more reps against the Panthers. Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts as we gear up for a return to The Bank.


Ashley is a sports fanatic to the core. Her grandmother introduced her to football as a little girl, and she's been hooked ever since. Fueled by massive amounts of caffeine and a passion for writing, Ashley showcases her fiery views on teams, players, and match-ups. Whether it's fantasy football advice or in-depth game analysis, Ashley has you covered like a lockdown cornerback.

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