Ravens' Lamar Jackson self-critical of performance, says he hasn't played at high level

After three uneven preseason outings, it might be time to slow down -- but not stop -- the Lamar Jackson hype train. There's no doubt that Jackson's long-term future in the NFL remains bright, but the idea that he could supplant Ravens long-time starter Joe Flacco as early as this season has lost all of its momentum. Just take it from Jackson himself, who acknowledged on Monday night that he's yet to play at a high level this offseason.

After the Ravens' preseason win over the Colts, during which Jackson went a disappointing 7 of 15 for 49 yards and a touchdown, the No. 32 pick in this year's draft was self-critical of his performance.

"I don't feel like I've performed at a high level yet," Jackson said, via ESPN.com.

"I came out cold," Jackson added. "I got to learn that when the vet is up, I have to stay warm through the process. I didn't do a good job tonight. I started off slow, incompleting a lot of balls that I didn't like, but I ended up throwing a touchdown."

Through three preseason games, Jackson has completed 18 of 43 pass attempts, which comes out to only 41.9 percent. He's thrown for 201 yards, which means he's averaging only 4.7 yards per attempt. He's thrown two touchdowns and one interception, and posted a 62.3 passer rating. He has, at least, added 72 yards and a touchdown on the ground, but the Ravens were never concerned about his ability to make plays with his legs. What they need to see is improvement as a passer.

Against the Colts on Monday night, Jackson demonstrated why he got drafted with the final pick of the first round. He's clearly got a high ceiling.

But he's got some issues -- accuracy, to name one -- that he needs to work through.

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His uneven preseason shouldn't be overly concerning to the Ravens, though. Jackson was never supposed to replace Flacco immediately. He was always supposed to spend the next year developing while Flacco finishes his Ravens career. There's a reason why Jackson didn't get drafted until the end of the first round. And that reason is that he's a supremely talented but flawed quarterback prospect. He'll need time to develop. And the Ravens will give him the time he needs while maybe utilizing his athleticism in special situations

"There's no question in my mind that he has a great future," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

With Jackson looking like exactly what you'd expect a developmental rookie quarterback to look like, the Ravens now have to ask themselves if they're ready to make him Flacco's backup or if they'll want to carry three quarterbacks by hanging onto Robert Griffin III. RG3 didn't wow anyone with his preseason performance, but he does have a wealth of experience that could help the Ravens in the event Flacco goes down with an injury. 

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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