Monday's NFL: Lamar Jackson fatigued during COVID bout; noncommittal on vaccine
Owings Mills, Md. — It’s been quite a couple of weeks for Lamar Jackson.
He tested positive for COVID-19 again, missing the beginning of training camp. While he was away, Buffalo’s Josh Allen — another quarterback from Jackson’s draft class — signed a big extension, raising more questions about how Jackson’s negotiations are going with the Ravens.
Now Jackson is practicing again, trying to make up for lost time while adjusting to some important new teammates.
Jackson spoke to the media Monday for the first time since returning from the COVID-19 list. He began practicing Saturday. Jackson’s positive COVID-19 test came right before the start of training camp. He also tested positive last season and missed a game.
“Just like last time probably — fatigued, if anything. I was sleeping a lot,” Jackson said. “But I’m glad to be back.”
Although Jackson was in good spirits Monday, he said the positive test was tough to take, especially given the timing.
“It was crazy. I was heartbroken, because I wasn’t looking forward to that at all — right before camp,” he said. “It was like, not again, not right now. But it’s over with.”
When asked if the Ravens have talked to him about getting vaccinated, he sounded noncommittal.
“I just got off the COVID list, so I’ve got to talk to my team doctors and try to see how they feel about it,” he said. “Keep learning as much as I can about it, and we’ll go from there.”
Jackson said he tried to stay sharp by throwing in his backyard — his cousins served as receivers. Baltimore plays its first exhibition game Saturday night against New Orleans. The preseason games may not be all that significant for a player of Jackson’s stature, but he could use time on the field.
Baltimore added receiver Sammy Watkins in the offseason and drafted receiver Rashod Bateman, part of an effort to improve what was the lowest passing output in the league a season ago.
“Sammy makes my job a lot easier, and my job is to make his a lot easier,” Jackson said. “Even when we’re doing scramble drills and stuff like that, he’s fighting off defenders, getting open. I missed him in the end zone, little back shoulder, he was right there. I’m mad I missed him. I’m still mad right now.”
As for Allen’s contract, Jackson wasn’t saying much about how that might affect his negotiations.
“That’s good for him, but like I said, I’m not worried about that,” Jackson said. “I’m just trying to work on getting better right now. I just got off COVID, I’m worried about my teammates, and we’re trying to get somewhere. The time will come about that.”
Coach John Harbaugh also indicated there wasn’t anything new to report on that front.
“It’ll happen when it’s going to happen. It’s best for both sides to happen, both sides want it to happen,” he said. “There’s really not a hurry.”
Watson practices with team
Deshaun Watson returned to practice with the Texans after not taking part in workouts for almost a week.
Watson reported to camp on time and was on the field for the team’s first five days of practice, participating in individual drills only. When the players wore pads for the first time this season last Tuesday, he did not participate and was not on the field.
He continued to be absent from practice until Monday when he trotted onto the field with the rest of the team. He only worked during individual drills and went into the indoor practice facility after the first five periods of work. He returned to the field near the end of the two-hour practice and watched as his teammates went through 11-on-11 work.
Coach David Culley refused to say why Watson stopped practicing with the team last week, and he wasn’t available to answer questions regarding his return Monday because he spoke before practice.
Watson’s future is uncertain after he asked for a trade in January before 22 women filed lawsuits alleging that he sexually assaulted or harassed them in March. Houston police and the NFL are investigating the allegations, but no charges have been filed.
Watson still wishes to be traded and reported to training camp solely to avoid being fined. He would have faced fines of $50,000 a day if he didn’t report.
The Giants have activated Saquon Barkley from the physically unable to perform, although it’s likely the star running back will not do much immediately.
Coach Joe Judge made the announcement Monday, noting Barkley is not going to be pushed and there is no timetable to get him into a preseason game — or even play when the season opens on Sept. 12.
Barkley tore the ACL in his right knee in the second game of last season and needed major reconstructive surgery. The Penn State product has undergone massive rehabilitation. He started training camp two weeks ago on the PUP list, but has been on the field watching his teammates.
… Saints kicker Wil Lutz has scheduled surgery to a repair a core muscle injury and it is unclear if he’ll return in time for the regular season.
Lutz announced the procedure with a post on social media and Saints coach Sean Payton said the Saints would have to work out kickers and sign a new one “at least” for the preseason.
… The Falcons signed running back D’Onta Foreman, adding depth behind new starter Mike Davis.