Jackson fatigued during COVID bout; noncommittal on vaccine

Sports

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson answers questions from reporters after an NFL football practice, Monday, Aug. 9, 2021 in Owings Mills, Md.(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — It’s been quite a couple of weeks for Lamar Jackson.

He tested positive for COVID-19 again, missing the beginning of training camp. While he was away, Buffalo’s Josh Allen — another quarterback from Jackson’s draft class — signed a big extension, raising more questions about how Jackson’s negotiations are going with the Ravens.

Now Jackson is practicing again, trying to make up for lost time while adjusting to some important new teammates.

Jackson spoke to the media Monday for the first time since returning from the COVID-19 list. He began practicing Saturday. Jackson’s positive COVID-19 test came right before the start of training camp. He also tested positive last season and missed a game.

“Just like last time probably — fatigued, if anything. I was sleeping a lot,” Jackson said. “But I’m glad to be back.”

Although Jackson was in good spirits Monday, he said the positive test was tough to take, especially given the timing.

“It was crazy. I was heartbroken, because I wasn’t looking forward to that at all — right before camp,” he said. “It was like, not again, not right now. But it’s over with.”

When asked if the Ravens have talked to him about getting vaccinated, he sounded noncommittal.

“I just got off the COVID list, so I’ve got to talk to my team doctors and try to see how they feel about it,” he said. “Keep learning as much as I can about it, and we’ll go from there.”

Jackson said he tried to stay sharp by throwing in his backyard — his cousins served as receivers. Baltimore plays its first exhibition game Saturday night against New Orleans. The preseason games may not be all that significant for a player of Jackson’s stature, but he could use time on the field.

Baltimore added receiver Sammy Watkins in the offseason and drafted receiver Rashod Bateman, part of an effort to improve what was the lowest passing output in the league a season ago.

“Sammy makes my job a lot easier, and my job is to make his a lot easier,” Jackson said. “Even when we’re doing scramble drills and stuff like that, he’s fighting off defenders, getting open. I missed him in the end zone, little back shoulder, he was right there. I’m mad I missed him. I’m still mad right now.”

As for Allen’s contract, Jackson wasn’t saying much about how that might affect his negotiations.

“That’s good for him, but like I said, I’m not worried about that,” Jackson said. “I’m just trying to work on getting better right now. I just got off COVID, I’m worried about my teammates, and we’re trying to get somewhere. The time will come about that.”

Coach John Harbaugh also indicated there wasn’t anything new to report on that front.

“It’ll happen when it’s going to happen. It’s best for both sides to happen, both sides want it to happen,” he said. “There’s really not a hurry.”

NOTES: T Ronnie Stanley (ankle) was on the field at practice Monday. “It’s good that he’s out here. I think we were hoping for right around now,” Harbaugh said. “He’s certainly very much on schedule.” … Harbaugh is fine with the reduction in the number of preseason games from four to three this year, as the NFL prepares for a 17-game regular season. “I think three’s the right number of games,” Harbaugh said. “The fourth game really wasn’t a relevant game that way. You were just trying to get through that game and get to the regular season. So three will be good.”

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

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