Ravens QB Jackson hopes to rely more on passing vs Raiders
BALTIMORE (AP) — Understanding that 27 carries a game is way too dangerous for an NFL quarterback, Lamar Jackson may do things differently in his second NFL start Sunday.
Playing in place of the injured Joe Flacco last week, the former Louisville star slithered, juked and bulled his way for 117 yards rushing to lead the Baltimore Ravens past the Cincinnati Bengals 24-21.
“I didn’t know about it until after the game,” Jackson said. “I was like, ‘I ran 27 times?’ I was shocked myself. So, I was like, ‘Dang, maybe I do have to get down.'”
Or perhaps the rookie will decide that passing might be the way to go when the Ravens (5-5) face the Oakland Raiders (2-8).
“We did whatever it took to win,” Jackson said. “Hopefully, I’m going to start throwing the ball more.”
With Flacco out with a sore right hip for at least one more week, Jackson hopes to utilize both his feet and right arm when operating the run-pass option that has suddenly become a staple of the Baltimore offense.
“They played a different style of football,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said after watching tape of the Cincinnati game. “They were able to adapt, and it’s a real credit to all those Ravens. But (Jackson) is tough to prepare for. You don’t know what he’s going to do, but you do know what he’s capable of doing and it’s scary.”
With Jackson and rookie running back Gus Edwards (115 yards rushing) leading the way, the Ravens snapped a three-game skid and got back in the playoff hunt.
The Raiders ended a five-game losing streak against Arizona last week, and quarterback Derek Carr wants to keep the momentum going.
“I want to mess up the draft . I don’t want the first pick,” Carr said. “I want to win all these games. I want everyone to be mad at me for that.”
Some other things to know about the Raiders-Ravens matchup:
There haven’t been many positives for Gruden in his first season back in charge of the Raiders, but the play of running back Jalen Richard has been one of them.
Richard leads the team with 51 catches this season and has been counted on as a runner more after Marshawn Lynch went on IR with a groin injury last month. Gruden called Richard the team’s MVP so far.
“He’s a guy that I think someday could run for 1,000 yards and catch 1,000 yards worth of passes,” Gruden said. “He’s a guy we can line up in the slot, we can line him up out wide. He might not be the biggest back, but he plays big. He’s very quick and decisive, and he’s got great vision.”
FAST AND STRONG
Combining speed and strength, Edwards, an undrafted free agent, burst onto the scene last week with a huge performance.
“Size and speed are a good combination,” coach John Harbaugh said of Edwards. “He has good acceleration, he runs hard, he’s a north/south guy, and he’s 240-plus (pounds). Yes, he’s doing a good job, and he has that big back-type build, which is a big plus.”
Seventh-round receiver Marcell Ateman fared well in his debut for Oakland last week, catching four passes for 50 yards, including a 32-yarder on the game-winning drive.
Ateman got his first chance because of injuries to Martavis Bryant and Jordy Nelson. Nelson might be back this week, but Brandon LaFell is out for the season with an Achilles injury — meaning the Raiders will need more from Ateman again.
“I was really pleased with Ateman,” Gruden said. “It wasn’t too big for him. He was confident. He was under control. He was calm. He made some plays.”
Jackson’s propensity to run means fewer catches for Baltimore receivers, but with they’ll gladly trade receptions for wins.
Long-ball threat John Brown said: “I haven’t played with a quarterback that runs that much. But, at the end of the day, that’s his style of play, and he’s making the plays. Everybody is happy with it.”
Michael Crabtree was Carr’s most trusted receiver during their three years together in Oakland. Whenever Carr needed to find someone for a key first down or touchdown, Crabtree was usually the player he looked to first. Crabtree’s 217 catches and 24 TDs on passes from Carr are the most of anyone.
The Raiders released Crabtree in March and he signed with Baltimore, where he has 42 catches for 479 yards this season.
Crabtree expressed no desire to extract revenge against his former team.
“Next game. We’re on the end of a stretch right here, so every game counts for us,” Crabtree said. “The next game is the Raiders.”