Tue, 04 Aug 2020

Marcellus Wiley: Lamar Jackson Will Be 'Greater Than Great' in 2020

In yesterday's Late for Work, we highlighted the debate over whether Lamar Jackson can match or improve upon his 2019 MVP season. Marcellus Wiley took on the topic on Fox Sports' "Speak for Yourself," and he's going all in on Jackson being even better in 2020.

"It's the wrong dude if you're ever going to bet against Lamar Jackson," the former NFL defensive end said. "You can be great, and actually greater than great. And that's what I expect for Lamar Jackson."

Wiley's comments are in contrast to those of ESPN's Bill Barnwell, who wrote: "If only because it's virtually impossible to improve on an MVP campaign, history suggests that Jackson will decline some this season."

Wiley thinks Jackson can follow in the footsteps of the players who won consecutive MVP awards: Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Joe Montana and Jim Brown. He pointed out that Jackson improved his completion percentage from one season to the next during his three years at Louisville and has done the same with the Ravens, going from a 58.2 completion percentage as a rookie to 66.1 percent last year.

"The guy continues to evolve his game every year he steps on the field, despite the expectations of him being great when he steps on that same field," Wiley said.

Former Ravens Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan also believes Jackson can repeat as MVP.

"You see multiple MVP [awards] getting ready to come his way," Ryan said on ESPN's "Get Up." "This guy's just going to get better and better through experience. That's a scary thought. ... Just go out and be Lamar Jackson and have fun playing. If he does that, I think he's unstoppable."

If last season was about Jackson improving his accuracy, this season is about being better at throwing the deep ball, Wiley said, echoing a sentiment expressed by Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh and Jackson's personal quarterback coach, Joshua Harris.

"If he's able to take that next step forward like he has in the past, everyone's in trouble," Wiley said.

Wiley's colleague, LaVar Arrington, agreed that Jackson will be even better this season, adding that Jackson can do so without leading the league in touchdown passes again and breaking his own single-season rushing record for a quarterback.

"This is one of those young men that is aware of who he is, he's aware of where he wants to go with what he's doing, and he believes in his team in that manner and his team believes in him," Arrington said.

Report: No Decision Finalized on Number of Preseason Games

It was reported yesterday that the NFL preseason would be shortened from four games to two in order to give players more time to get into football shape since offseason workouts with their teams have been restricted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo and Tom Pelissero reported that no decision has been made, as some members of the NFL Players Association are in favor of playing no preseason games.

"One issue with the two-game preseason slate from players' perspective: Some could have just 23 days from report date to first preseason games. Not much of a ramp-up," Pelissero wrote. "Then there's the exposure risk in games that don't count in the standings. A lot to discuss over next couple days."

Pro Football Talk reported earlier yesterday that Week 1 and Week 4 of the preseason would be canceled.

In other news, the NFL will not hold a supplemental draft this year, Pelissero reported. The Ravens' only pick in the history of the supplemental draft was offensive tackle Jared Gaither, who was taken in the fifth round in 2007.

Competition Between Willie Snead IV, Devin Duvernay Is One to Watch

The battle for playing time in the slot position between veteran Willie Snead IV and rookie Devin Duvernay is one the top training camp competitions at wide receiver, Pro Football Focus' Ben Linsey wrote.

"The PFF Draft Guide called [Duvernay] one of the top slot receivers in the class, citing his reliable hands and after-the-catch ability as reasons why," Linsey wrote. "Duvernay adds more juice to the position than Snead would, but Snead [has] the advantage of being the incumbent, the veteran who already knows the system."

Snead, a sure-handed possession receiver and strong blocker in the run game, caught a career-high five touchdown passes last season. He was the 10th most valuable wide receiver in the league in 2019, according to analytics used by Pro Football Network's Lucas Ellinas.

Linsey said he expects Snead to begin the season as the starter but for Duvernay to push for more snaps as the season progresses.

"Duvernay's speed and after-the-catch ability is something that [Offensive Coordinator Greg] Roman will want to get on the field so that he can add another game-breaker to an offense that is already very fast," Linsey wrote.

Ronnie Stanley: Rest Played No Factor in Playoff Loss to Titans

Ravens players and coaches are undoubtedly tired of talking about January's playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans, but they understand it comes with the territory after falling short of their own high expectations.

When Ronnie Stanley was asked to reflect on the game during his appearance on CBS Sports HQ, the All-Pro left tackle dismissed the notion that the team was negatively impacted by resting some starters in Week 17 and having a bye in the first round of the playoffs.

"We just didn't play well," Stanley said. "I think the rest was to our advantage. Anyone saying that was a bad thing doesn't really understand how long that season is, so that rest only helped us. ... We just weren't all there that night and they were the better team on that particular night."

Stanley said the loss "serves as great motivation" for him entering this season.

"I have tremendous hope for our team because we are a young team, and for a lot of those guys that was their first playoff appearance starting," Stanley said. "I think it was a great, valuable lesson not only for me, but for those guys as well. It's really going to motivate all of those guys."

Quick Hits

Free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown posted a video on Instagram of him working out with Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. It was reported by NFL Network's Michael Silver last week that the Seahawks and Ravens have had internal discussions about signing Brown. ESPN's Josina Anderson subsequently reported that Brown "has not been earnestly discussed" by the Ravens. The Ravens have three of the 10 longest fourth-down conversions in NFL history.

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