Ravens' Joe Flacco welcomes Lamar Jackson with 'open arms'
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco laughed at the notion that he holds a grudge against first-round draft pick Lamar Jackson.
"We welcomed Lamar here with open arms," Flacco said.
The two quarterbacks appeared amiable as they rotated snaps, along with Robert Griffin III, in workouts this week. Flacco was clearly the most polished of the three, zipping passes downfield with almost pinpoint accuracy.
Nonetheless, it is shaping up to be an important season for the veteran Flacco.
He has been assured that he will remain the starter in 2018 but also must consider how his future will be influenced by the presence of the rookie Jackson.
"Obviously, when you pick a quarterback, when you pick anybody in the first round, it means something," Flacco said. "I don't know what that means. I don't know exactly what it is. That's not my job to worry about what it is. My job is to keep my approach exactly what it's been the last 10 years and help my team win football games."
Flacco, 32 threw for 3,141 yards with 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2017. Baltimore's passing attack was ranked 29th in the NFL, and that played a key part in the team missing the playoffs for a third straight year.
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome signed three free agent receivers — Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead — to help improve the passing game. He also selected a pair of tight ends — Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews — in the first three rounds of this year's draft.
The Ravens also took Jackson with the 32nd overall pick. He ran for 50 touchdowns and threw for 69 more during an impressive three-run at Louisville.
While Jackson needs more time to develop into effective passer, he is a dynamic athlete that could push for playing time, especially inside the red zone. Flacco, however, is not worried about Jackson taking snaps from him.
"Listen, I want to win football games," Flacco said. "Whatever's going to help us win. I'm probably going to maintain that myself under center is our best chance to win football games. But whatever helps us win football games, I'm game."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh has been impressed with Jackson over the recent offseason workouts.
"He is a very talented guy," Harbaugh said. "He has practiced well everytime he has been out here. The toughest thing for him right now is calling the plays. He has never been in that type of system. So, I would say he has made a big jump calling the plays and annunciating the offense."
Harbaugh is not worried about having any type of quarterback controversy on his hands. He dismissed any potential friction between Flacco, Jackson and even Griffin.
"It was much ado about nothing," Harbaugh said. "I never thought it was anything and I know it's not anything."
As for Flacco, he is just concerned about getting the Ravens back on track and ending the postseason drought. He welcomes anyone ready to contribute to that goal.
"I'm worried about right now, myself getting these guys ready to win football games," Flacco said. "Nothing is ever promised to us. That's the reality."
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