Wobbly start: Lamar Jackson critical of his early offseason practices

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- At the end of Thursday's practice, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh wanted to finish with a pressure scenario, telling his players that there were seven seconds remaining and the offense was down by six points.

Lamar Jackson threw a 3-yard touchdown pass through heavy traffic to running back Gus Edwards, winning the drill but apparently not winning over the second-year quarterback. Jackson gave a blunt assessment of how he performed in his first week of offseason practices.

"I'd say, my first day, I sucked. Second day, I did better. Today, it was all right but it could've been better," Jackson said. "I'm always trying to be perfect in practice."

The development of Jackson as a passer has been the big question mark surrounding the Ravens all offseason and will continue to be the hot-topic issue. If Baltimore wants to return to the playoffs, Jackson has to improve upon his 58.2 percent completion rate and his 159.1 yards passing per game as a starter.

On Thursday, Jackson showed more velocity on his passes than last season. He stepped into his throws and drove them downfield, especially on the deep passes along the sidelines.

There were other times when Jackson struggled connecting with his receivers, specifically in the red zone.

Harbaugh explained that Baltimore has rebuilt its offense under new coordinator Greg Roman, from the cadence to the terminology. As Harbaugh pointed out, the Ravens didn't have the luxury of an extra two weeks to practice like teams that hire a new head coach do.

"It's a process," Harbaugh said. "So, we're not exactly clicking on all cylinders yet. But I'm really happy with the progress and where we're going."

At the top of Jackson's checklist this offseason is changing the look of his passes. He wants his spirals to be tighter, which were a problem last season and during the first week of spring workouts. Several of Jackson's passes wobbled through the air.

"It's been crazy. It's been everywhere," Jackson said of his throws. "I feel like my hand is a little too high on the football and that makes the ball go out of whack a lot."

Jackson has impressed coaches and players with how hard he has worked this offseason. A mainstay in the Ravens' conditioning program, Jackson has been seen doing chin-ups in the weight room and running around cones in the indoor field house.

As for Jackson's first three practices of the spring, teammates weren't as harsh as Jackson in grading last year's No. 32 overall pick. They remarked seeing Jackson throwing the ball in tight windows, hitting receivers deep downfield and going through his progressions before checking it down instead of forcing a pass. Jackson was also the only Ravens quarterback who didn't throw an interception Thursday.

"He can throw it," said running back Mark Ingram, the Ravens' top free-agent addition on offense. "Of course, there are going to be times when he might throw something he wants to have back. That's a part of growing. That's a part of maturing as a young quarterback. I played with Drew Brees for eight years, and there are throws that he wishes he had back. That's part of the process. That's part of improving every single day. You can tell he wants to be great and wants to be the best. We're all behind him."

Jackson acknowledged that he didn't know the Ravens were overhauling the offense until he arrived back with the team and he doesn't know all of his new targets' names. Of Baltimore's 13 wide receivers, eight are newcomers, including six rookies.

This offseason is a work in progress for Jackson.

"I want to focus on everything. I don't feel like I have everything down pat," Jackson said. "I'm not really confident in just saying, 'Oh, yeah, I'm good at this and I'm bad at that.' I'm bad at everything right now until [we are] where we should be."