Back in June, some six weeks after the Ravens drafted quarterback Lamar Jackson in the first round, safety Eric Weddle said incumbent Joe Flacco looked like a different player during offseason workouts.
"He's obviously been challenged," Weddle said at the time. "Drafting Lamar and bringing [Robert] Griffin in, it's lit a fire under him. You can tell. It has shown."
Turns out, looking like a different player includes playing wide receiver, which is ironic given that Jackson told teams before the draft that he had no interest in moving to that position because he considers himself a quarterback first. Interestingly, Jackson has seen reps at wide receiver since joining the Ravens -- and has seemed fine with those reps -- perhaps because it appears to be part of a larger offensive strategy to confuse defenses who now have to prepare for two quarterbacks of differing athletic abilities.
But don't be fooled! Questions of Flacco's elitism should also include his athleticism. Which brings us back to his pass-catching skills.
On Saturday, we saw Flacco hauling in passes like it was the most natural thing in the world.
And on Monday, there were reports (though, sadly, no video) of Flacco making spectacular one-handed grabs.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco lined up at different positions during two-quarterback plays, catching two passes (including a one-handed grab) and running once. Ravens continue to be creative in this year’s training camp.— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) July 30, 2018
"I remember him coming out — a big guy, big arm," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said of Flacco, via the Baltimore Sun. "But then once you dug into the film, holy smokes! He's really a good athlete, especially for his size, and then he showed that throughout his career. I'm so jacked up because this is the first time he's been healthy — in what, a couple years — in camp, and you can see it. You can see it both on the field, and you can see it on the film. So he's healthy. That's a good thing. His athleticism shows up just a little bit, even in practices."
There have been concerns that featuring two quarterbacks on the field at the same time might lean towards gimmicky, but for a Ravens offense that has struggled to score points in recent years, nothing's off the table.
"Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us," coach John Harbaugh said in June. "If you put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That's what we're trying to figure out."
And on Monday, Mornhinweg weighed in on the matter.
"There are two philosophies to the thing — and I've done it both ways — where you show very little, and so they don't quite know what to prepare for, or you show them so much that they have a hard time preparing for it," he said. "We've got five [preseason] games, and it's hard not to show much and give the fellas a chance to have some success. So we've got to show a little bit here throughout this preseason. We've got the staff here. The offensive staff has a pretty good plan, and it's not set in stone, so we can make adjustments for all five games."
The Ravens' preseason begins on Thursday when they face the Bears in the Hall of Fame game. Asked what he's most excited about showing off in his NFL debut, Jackson offered this: "[That] I'm a quarterback," adding "And just show the growth from college to my new chapter."
We probably won't see Flacco on Thursday -- he's the unquestioned starting quarterback -- and realistically, we'll almost certainly have to wait until the regular season before we're treated to either him or Jackson hauling in passes.