- It would be impossible to form a definitive opinion on the Thursday night debut of Ravens first-round quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Thursday’s NFL opener more closely resembled a grade school rock fight than a uniformed game of pigskin, so we kick off the weekend with a plea to the football world: Listen to no one who claims to have a definitive opinion on the debut of Ravens first-round pick Lamar Jackson.
The former Heisman Trophy winner, whose pre-draft process was an exercise in identifying coded language reserved only for certain types of quarterbacks, made some nice throws against the Bears. He also made some bad throws, and finished the night 4-of-10 for 33 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He is about two weeks into his NFL career, still at the point where he’s practicing the next day's play calls in the mirror. Anyone who can glean anything but “we probably should have let both teams practice a little longer” is probably looking for a little attention and knows how to push the right buttons.
We caution because the bad takes will seep out like damp steam from the sewer. If the NFL news cycle is slow enough, it will be enough to aggravate us all weekend. It’s possible, you know. NBC’s Cris Collinsworth waited until the two-minute mark to re-assert Joe Flacco’s place atop the team’s depth chart–something that, since the beginning of camp, hasn’t been in question. Flacco is healthy and looks good. Jackson is young and appears to need some work, or at least more time with a new group of wide receivers. None of this is surprising. Anything else is projecting a minute sample size onto previous held beliefs. If that sounds like your idea of a good time, I’d encourage a long bike ride or hike into the woods.
Now, on to the good stuff...
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TRAINING CAMP TIDBITS 8/2
Jonathan Jones in Berea, Ohio...You have to get into camp for a few days and practice on a warm day in full pads before you get a real fight in training camp. The Cleveland Browns didn’t fight on Thursday, but the ingredients seem to be there. The offense and defense jawed back and forth all day as the defense got the better of the other unit for most of the day—but especially at the goal line. By my count, the offense only got into the end zone legitimately once during the goal line period as the first and second team defenses stuffed the Tyrod Taylor-led first team and Baker Mayfield-led second team offenses. Jarvis Landry and Damarious Randall traded verbal barbs throughout the day, starting during one-on-one and continuing during team periods where, eventually, they had to be separated. “Dominated by the defense…. They just…they whooped em,” Hue Jackson said of the goalline period. “That’s just what it is. If I’m the offense I’m mad and I’m going to go back and the next time we have that period, I’m going to come back and show that we’re there.”
Kalyn Kahler in Nashville...Several members of the Titans secondary were sporting matching shirts under their jerseys that read, "MMCNB." Kevin Byard wore a bright-red shirt with the acronym in large white letters. Apparently, MMCNB stands for My Man Catch No Balls, a mantra that position coach Kerry Coombs coined, because the Titans unit plays a lot of man-to-man coverage. It's become a rallying cry, a simple goal to prevent their man from making any catches. Byard said Thursday that Logan Ryan has taken the charge of the budding movement, and has even trademarked the acronym. The unit will need to rely on this even more, with the news Thursday that starting safety Jonathan Cyprien will be out for the season with a torn ACL. The Titans will be bringing in a host of veteran safeties for visits over the next couple days. Kenny Vaccaro, Eric Reid, and Mike Mitchell are reported to be heading to Nashville.
ELSEWHERE IN THE NFL: The league, and all of its tenticle operations, continue to tragically mishandle the Colin Kaepernick situation. Here is EA Sports apologizing for editing his name out of a Big Sean song on the new Madden 19 soundtrack...One of Kaepernick's biggest supporters, and initial visionaries of the NFL's criminal justice reform movement, Eric Reid, will have a free agent visit with the Titans...Also, NFL Network is still quietly trying to clean up its mess stemming from a 2017 sexual harrassment suit implicating the likes of Marshall Faulk, Heath Evans and Ike Taylor.
The Hall of Fame game is like kicking off a fireworks show with a handheld sparkler, but the truth is unavoidable: Football is here to take over our lives again. Let it hit you like a cold ocean wave. Plug into the NFL multiverse and ride the lightning. Astral projections cannot save you now. Nothing will ever be the same again.
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