Jackson back at practice for Ravens after COVID-19 absence

Sports

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson returns to football practice after missing 10-days due to COVID-19. He completes a pass during training camp at Under Armour Performance Center on Aug. 7, 2021 in Owings Mills, Md. (Kevin Richardson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Lamar Jackson is back at practice, and Baltimore coach John Harbaugh expects the star quarterback to catch up pretty easily to where the rest of the team is in its preparation.

“He’s going to merge right in,” Harbaugh said, using cars on a highway as a metaphor.

Jackson was on the field Saturday, a day after the Ravens activated him from the COVID-19 list. He hadn’t practiced yet during training camp, but with the first preseason game still a week away, the team has plenty of time before the start of the season becomes imminent.

Jackson wasn’t available to reporters Saturday, but Harbaugh gave a positive evaluation of his practice.

“I thought he looked really good. I would say he looked even better than I expected him to,” Harbaugh said. “You’re coming off 10 days away, he hadn’t started yet. COVID is tough. He had symptoms. He had a lot of symptoms.”

The Ravens will hope this bout with COVID-19 was his last. Jackson also tested positive last season and missed a game. Harbaugh said he tried to use his time productively during this most recent absence.

“He was in meetings when he could be, when he was able to be. Conditioning to the degree that he was able to — not a lot, especially early. Toward the end a little bit,” Harbaugh said. “He got hit pretty hard with the symptoms.”

The Ravens host New Orleans in their preseason opener next Saturday night. Harbaugh said Jackson’s absence hasn’t caused the team to change anything about its plans for reps and playing time.

“We’re just going to keep the train moving,” Harbaugh said. “We stuck with our install, guys have responded very well, and we’re staying right on schedule.”

The Ravens ranked last in the NFL in passing last season, and they added receiver Sammy Watkins to the fold this offseason. They also drafted receiver Rashod Bateman in the first round.

Jackson must now make up for lost time working with his receivers, although the health of that unit has also been an issue. Bateman has dealt with muscle tightness, and receiver Marquise Brown has been limited by hamstring issues.

NOTES: Harbaugh said CB Jimmy Smith (ankle sprain) should be out a week or two, which Harbaugh characterized as good news. … LB Justin Houston, who agreed to a contract with the Ravens late last month, said he nearly signed with rival Pittsburgh but chose Baltimore instead. “It just worked out better,” he said.

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Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister

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