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Ravens Insider: A slimmer Lamar Jackson is only now getting past the Ravens’ AFC championship loss


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Of course the wound lingered. Of course the self-reproach carried deep into Lamar Jackson’s offseason.

He could practically taste the Super Bowl after the Ravens ran roughshod over the NFL’s best teams and brought the AFC championship game to their home field. Then, Jackson and the offense he led failed to perform up to snuff against a familiar nemesis, the Kansas City Chiefs.

Jackson had to go through the ritual of accepting his second NFL Most Valuable Player Award three days before the Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers for the championship he dearly covets.

So it was no surprise to hear him say he’s only now putting that disappointment behind him as the Ravens begin their long ramp-up to a fresh season, with the Chiefs waiting for them in the opener and more difficult questions about their playoff mettle hovering over everything they do.

“I believe it hurt more, losing before the Super Bowl,” a notably slender Jackson said Wednesday, speaking to Baltimore reporters for the first time since the bitter end to last season. “We worked so hard, 17 weeks, plus the playoff games. To get to a game away and lose, and we really didn’t put any points on the board … we’ve just got to finish, man.”

The subject is unavoidable in a locker room that orbits around its franchise quarterback.

“Us players still talk about it, so it definitely left a bitter taste on our mouths being that close,” Jackson said.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh wants his players to remember the hurt of falling short but to keep their minds on what’s next. “It’s both,” he said. “You never forget. We don’t forget for sure and try to improve. What we’re talking about is confronting everything that has to do with being the very best we can be. If that’s part of the confrontation, let’s go.”

Though he’s happy to play the Chiefs on the first Thursday night of the season, Jackson knows the Ravens’ progress won’t truly be measured until January.

“Our goal is to make it to the Super Bowl,” he said. “We lost to them in the playoffs. Just us beating them in the regular season don’t really do anything.”

Ravens team OTA open practice | PHOTOS

Jackson’s trimmer physique has been all the talk among Ravens fans since he told a Complex Sports interviewer on Instagram that he weighs 205 pounds, down from 215 last season and 230 in 2022.

He gave a more cryptic estimate of “I’m like 2-something right now” when asked Wednesday how much weight he lost but confirmed that he did it in a quest for greater agility and acceleration. He joked that he wouldn’t reveal his diet and exercise regimen for free.

“I feel great,” he said, hinting that he hasn’t been this quick going into a season since before the start of the coronavirus pandemic. “I feel great to be back out here with my guys.”

Harbaugh laughed at a series of questions about his franchise quarterback’s weight, saying he might intervene if Jackson ballooned to 250 pounds or faded to a skin-and-bones 150.

“He’s a pro,” Harbaugh said. “He knows what he’s doing, where he wants to be with that. My concern is that he’s in the best shape of his life.”

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson works out during team OTA open practice session. (Kenneth K. Lam/Staff)
Quarterback Lamar Jackson slimmed down in a quest to be more agile but knows the Ravens can’t truly change their narrative until January. (Kenneth K. Lam/Staff)

Teammates have yet to weigh in on Jackson’s relative speed, though he did his usual playful juking and engaged safety Kyle Hamilton in a mock dash for the end zone during Wednesday’s workout at voluntary organized team activities.

“He looks good to me, but he looked different when he first showed up,” wide receiver Zay Flowers said of his quarterback. “He was so skinny, but he looks good.”

In winning his second MVP, Jackson rushed for 51.3 yards per game and 5.5 yards per carry, his lowest totals since his rookie season. This year, he’ll be paired with an overpowering new backfield mate in running back Derrick Henry.

He said he’ll hand Henry the ball and get out of the way, shouting along with the fans, “Go big guy, go!”

What about wide receiver Rashod Bateman, who signed an extension in the offseason after he was targeted just 56 times in 16 games last year?

“He’s an elusive receiver, great off the ball, great separation,” Jackson said of the team’s 2021 first-round draft pick. “We’ve just got to get him the ball. That’s all there is to it.”

Jackson seems confident all ships will rise in the team’s second season under offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who was his usual profane, enthusiastic self Wednesday after fans spent the past four months lambasting his game plan against the Chiefs.

“I’m a lot more comfortable with everything,” Jackson said. “How he’s calling the plays and what he’s expecting us to do.”

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