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As Lamar Jackson arrives for Ravens OTAs, here are 5 questions that linger – Twin Cities


Lamar Jackson has arrived.

A source with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed to The Baltimore Sun that the Ravens quarterback is at the team’s facility in Owings Mills on Tuesday, a day after the first of what are 10 voluntary organized team activities over the next three weeks. Jackson, who signed a five-year extension worth a reported $260 million earlier this month, was absent the first five weeks of the Ravens’ voluntary workouts and had not been on the field with the team since suffering a PCL injury against the Denver Broncos on Dec. 4.

The Ravens are one of 20 teams that began organized team activities Monday; another 10 did so Tuesday.

Though “live” contact is not allowed, seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 work is permitted. One Ravens session per week will also be open to the media, beginning Wednesday, with the other organized team activities scheduled for Thursday, next Tuesday, and June 1-2, 5-6, 8-9.

The only mandatory portion of the offseason workout program is a three-day minicamp from June 13 to 15, and while not every player will be in attendance Wednesday or at the other voluntary sessions, the practices will provide the most in-depth look of the offseason.

Here are five questions going into this year’s organized team activities:

How important is Lamar Jackson’s participation?

The Ravens have a new offensive coordinator in Todd Monken and several new wide receivers with the free agent additions of Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor along with first-round draft pick Zay Flowers. Monken said two weeks ago that the team has been in “constant communication” with Jackson and added that the quarterback has been “working hard.”

But nothing beats having him there as a participant — this week marks the first time in the offseason program that the offense can line up against the defense.

Last year, Jackson skipped the entirety of voluntary offseason practices for the first time in his career. But that took place while he was embroiled in a contract stalemate with the team, and now he’s reportedly the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL.

What his participation in the voluntary activities will be remains to be seen, but the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, New York Jets’ Aaron Rodgers, New York Giants’ Daniel Jones, Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Herbert and Seattle Seahawks’ Geno Smith were among the quarterbacks who showed up and participated on the first day of their team’s respective voluntary activities this week.

What about Odell Beckham Jr.?

Jackson was hardly the only player not on hand for the Ravens’ “football school” and other voluntary activities. Beckham, whom the Ravens signed last month to a one-year deal worth a reported $15 million, has been among the notable absences.

Plenty of others worked out on their own, too, including running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, wide receiver Rashod Bateman, tight end Mark Andrews, linebacker Patrick Queen, safety Marcus Williams and offensive linemen Ronnie Stanley, Morgan Moses and Kevin Zeitler.

At least some of that group was in attendance on Monday, though. Bateman, who is coming off season-ending foot surgery, as well as Queen, Williams and Moses were among the players shown on the team’s social media feeds who participated in the practice.

As for Beckham, he hasn’t played in a game since tearing his ACL in Super Bowl 56 in February 2022, and when he’ll take the field at the Ravens’ facility is unclear.

“I’m still in my process of getting ready for September, because we don’t play tomorrow, we don’t play a week from now, a month from now; we play in September,” Beckham said last month. “So it’s about getting ready for that, being in the best physical shape I can be, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, all that.”

What will the new offense look like?

Already, the differences between Monken’s personality and that of previous offensive coordinator Greg Roman were on display during “football school” with Monken taking a vocal and active role with the offense, compared with the much more reserved presence Roman had the previous four years.

As for the product on the field, the Ravens aren’t going to reveal anything significant over the next few weeks. But Monken has talked repeatedly about his desire to up the tempo and spread the offense out more.

“Everybody feels like we have to pick it up on offense this year,” offensive tackle Daniel Faalele told The Sun during a recent volunteer day at Morrell Park Elementary/Middle School. “Our new [offensive coordinator] understands that as well. He’s been emphasizing communication and he’s made it a lot easier to understand the offense so we can play a lot faster. I’m excited going into this year, especially with the players we have.”

It’s also possible the Ravens’ reliance on Jackson’s ability to run could be reduced because there’s more talent around him.

“I’m excited when they all get here to see that and see the competition,” Monken said two weeks ago. “And, our tight ends as well: Mark [Andrews] and Isaiah [Likely], our running back room. I’m excited to get started, but there is only one ball.

“I think the more talented you are around your quarterback, the less he has to take on that burden, shoulder the load because you’re excited about getting others the football where they can utilize their skill set.”

Who will be the starting left guard?

One of the more significant decisions still to be made is who will replace starting left guard Ben Powers, who left for the Denver Broncos in free agency.

That will play out this summer at training camp, but coach John Harbaugh previously mentioned four possibilities: Patrick Mekari, Ben Cleveland, John Simpson and Faalele. The Ravens also drafted Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu out of Oregon in the sixth round, Andrew Vorhees out of Southern California in the seventh and signed former Chicago Bears center and Owings Mills native Sam Mustipher.

But Aumavae-Laulu is likely a developmental prospect, while Vorhees will miss the season as he recovers from a torn ACL and Mustipher will most likely back up starting center Tyler Linderbaum. In limited action, Faalele played tackle last season, while Mekari’s versatility likely makes him more valuable in multiple spots on the line.

That leaves Cleveland, a third-round pick in 2021, and Simpson, who joined the Ravens late last year after three seasons with the Las Vegas Raiders, as the most likely candidates.

Both have struggled at times, though.

“Every day is like competition,” Simpson told The Sun. “My biggest focus right now is focusing on pass protection and leg drive in the run game.

“The biggest difference between last year and now, though, is now I feel like is a new start. Before, I just got thrown in and had to survive. Now I’m starting brand new with these guys.”

What about cornerback?

The starting cornerback spot opposite Marlon Humphrey was one of the biggest question marks entering the offseason. The Ravens addressed it by signing Rock-Ya Sin.

But Ya-Sin, who was traded from the Indianapolis Colts to the Raiders last March, is also coming off a season-ending knee injury that he suffered in Week 13. Over the past three years, he’s missed 13 games because of injuries.

When healthy, Ya-Sin has been fairly solid, with his passer rating allowed when targeted in coverage having steadily dropped the past three seasons. But the 27-year-old has also been inconsistent in that time frame, too.

While Ya-Sin will probably be the starter, other cornerbacks will get plenty of looks this offseason, including Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion “Pepe” Williams, both fourth-round picks a year ago, and Trayvon Mullen, Jackson’s cousin who re-signed in March. There’s also rookie Kyu Blu Kelly, whom the Ravens drafted out of Stanford in the fifth round.


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