'I know he's working hard' – John Harbaugh defends Lamar Jackson's absence from OTAs

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Lamar Jackson may not be attending the Baltimore Ravens’ organised team activities, but that isn’t a concern for head coach John Harbaugh.

It’s not uncommon for established players to skip their team’s OTAs, and although Jackson won the league’s MVP Award in 2019, he is coming off an injury-marred 2021 season and is entering the final year of his rookie contract. The fact that he hasn’t engaged in discussions with the Ravens over a contract extension is also somewhat concerning.

But Harbaugh is certain his star quarterback is training hard on his own, and will be present when the Ravens open mandatory minicamp on June 14.

"I expect him to be here at mandatory minicamp," Harbaugh said Wednesday. "I know he's working hard. Lamar Jackson's a hard worker, so I'm not worried about how hard he's working.

"I fully expect him to come back in great shape, that's what he talks about. I'm sure he's throwing, I'm sure he's doing a good job, and when he gets back here, we’ll roll with Lamar."

Jackson was criticized by Chris Simms on Pro Football Talk Live on May 27, with the former NFL QB saying: "(Tom) Brady wouldn't be missing OTAs in year four of his career... Brady didn't miss an OTA until he had played in four Super Bowls."

Responding to those comments quoting a tweet featuring a clip of Simms' remarks, Jackson wrote: "Lamar wants to be Lamar Chris.

"This part of OTAs is voluntary my guy I will be there, just not on your watch. It's probably other QBs not attending voluntary OTAs either but since it's Lamar it's a huge deal. Find something else to talk about."

Jackson, who is set to make just over $23 million guaranteed on his fifth-year option in 2022, averaged 240.2 passing yards and 63.9 yards rushing in 12 games last season. He finished with 16 passing touchdowns, a career-high 13 interceptions and an 87.0 QB rating – eighth lowest among the 30 quarterbacks with at least 350 passing attempts last season.

The Ravens lost four of the five games Jackson missed last season and finished 8-9 to miss the playoffs for the first time in his career.

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