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BALTIMORE (AP) The Heisman Trophy that Lamar Jackson earned as a 19-year-old and the 119 touchdowns he produced at Louisville don’t carry any weight at his first NFL training camp.
Just like all the other Baltimore Ravens rookies [url=http://www.kansascitychiefsteamonline.com/patrick-mahomes-ii-jersey]Authentic Patrick Mahomes Jersey[/url] , Jackson has to prove he can make the transition to the pro game.
And he’s totally fine with it.
”It feels good just being out here with NFL talent,” Jackson said. ”It’s not college or high school anymore. You’re a grown man. You have to show up and show out.”
Jackson played well at minicamp in the spring, and the first-round pick continues to impress this summer. He’s not about to unseat 10-year veteran Joe Flacco, who’s assured the starting job, but the fleet-footed newcomer has turned more than a few heads with his ability to escape a collapsing pocket and sprint downfield.
”He likes to run, very fast,” Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said. ”He’s very exciting, a young talent, and he approaches the game with the kind of requirement that quarterbacks are held to in this league. He could have a promising career.”
At Louisville, Jackson did it all. He threw 69 touchdown passes and ran for 50 scores before opting to toss his name into the draft after completing a junior season in which he was named a Heisman Trophy finalist for the second year in a row.
Known more for his legs than his arm, the 6-foot-2 Jackson was on the brink of dropping from the first round before the Ravens worked a trade with Philadelphia and nabbed him with the 32nd overall pick.
Eager to blunt any notion that Jackson would compete for the starting job, coach John Harbaugh immediately stressed the job belongs to Flacco. There’s veteran quarterback Robert Griffin III to contend with [url=http://www.officialflyersproshop.com/authentic-adidas-sean-couturier-jersey]Womens Sean Couturier Jersey[/url] , too, but instead of considering them rivals, Jackson views them as teachers.
”I’m still learning,” the 21-year-old acknowledged. ”Everything they do, I’m trying to mimic.”
Jackson, however, has his own special skills. The Ravens know it would be foolish to keep him on the bench, so they’re trying to find creative ways to work him into the offense. At a recent practice, he threw a pass to Flacco, who lined up as a receiver.
”We’re going to see what everybody’s strengths are,” offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. ”We’ll try to use all of our players that are eligible, we’ll try to use the whole field [url=http://www.49ersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-fred-warner-jersey]49ers Fred Warner Jersey[/url] , we’ll get it to our best players.”
Jackson has impressed his teammates and the coaching staff with his athleticism and willingness to work.
”I’ll tell you what, Lamar’s done just an outstanding job,” Mornhinweg said. ”Everybody in this league has some uncommon tools, and he certainly does. You can see on the practice field. He’s way ahead of the curve now.”
The next step for Jackson – and by far the most significant thus far – is going up against outside competition. Come Thursday night, in the Hall of Fame Game against the Chicago Bears, it will be time to see what he’s got.
”I’m looking forward to it,” he said. ”I have to show them my talent in the preseason games.”
It may not be pretty. There might even be an interception or two. Not that it matters.
”With a young player, I don’t think you expect perfection,” Harbaugh said, ”but he looks pretty good out there to me.”
On May 16, St. Louis Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter stood in the batter’s box at Target Field in Minneapolis. The career .275 hitter was batting an embarrassing .140, and St. Louis fans were calling for his benching.
What a difference six weeks make.
Going into Wednesday night’s series finale with the Cleveland Indians at Busch Stadium [url=http://www.bengalscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-joe-mixon-jersey]Joe Mixon Jersey[/url] , Carpenter is now hitting .259. Since the middle of May, Carpenter has collected 53 hits and batted .349. His 16 doubles and 12 homers in that span rank second in the majors, and no hitter can equal his 1.115 OPS over that period, not even Mike Trout.
In Tuesday night’s 11-2 blowout of Cleveland, Carpenter did something no other Cardinal has ever done. He went 5-for-5 with five runs scored and belted a pair of solo homers. That’s a roll call not even Stan Musial or Albert Pujols can answer.
Included in that outburst was a leadoff homer off Indians ace Corey Kluber, a blast that cut a 2-0 deficit in half and restored energy in a dugout that could have gotten down after a quick deficit following a 90-minute rain delay.
“He’s one of the best in the game,” Carpenter said of Kluber. “That’s just an outstanding job by our team. We took a lot of good at-bats. I’m starting to put things together. We play a long, long, long season. I knew I could physically do it.”
A five-run second inning turned flames into an inferno, burning Kluber in the shortest start of his career. It also put the Cardinals (42-36) in position to sweep the American League Central leaders and gave them four straight wins after a stretch of eight losses in 10 games.
St. Louis will send Jack Flaherty (3-2, 2.50 ERA) to the mound in search of a sweep on Wednesday. Flaherty is coming off the best start of his young career, tying his career high with 13 strikeouts Friday night in Milwaukee. He took a no-hitter one out into the seventh inning before Jesus Aguilar golfed a breaking ball over the left-center-field wall.
But Flaherty had to settle for a no-decision that night in his team’s eventual 2-1 loss [url=http://www.officialdevils.com/authentic-adidas-taylor-hall-jersey]Authentic Taylor Hall Jersey[/url] , although the performance may have made him a candidate for National League Rookie of the Year.
“He prepares beyond his years,” Cardinals pitching coach Mike Maddux told mlb.com. “If you saw him, you would think he’s been around the block.”
Flaherty has never faced Cleveland.
Flaherty’s resume does read like a grizzled veteran compared to Indians right-hander Shane Bieber (2-0, 2.45), who will make his fourth big league start. Bieber blanked Detroit over seven innings Friday night in a 10-0 victory, allowing just four hits and walking one while fanning nine.
“I was saying before the game that I was excited to watch him pitch, and that’s why,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said to mlb.com. “He pounded the zone with three different pitches. He changed speeds. That was fun to watch.”
Nothing about this series has been fun for the Indians, who in two games have managed just 10 hits, none for extra bases. That’s been a dramatic contrast after outscoring opponents by 54 runs during a seven-game winning streak.
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