The decision of Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson to suddenly disclose details about his knee injury on Thursday night wasn’t spontaneous, accidental, or coincidental. At a time when the powers-that-be in the organization are becoming frustrated to the point of exasperated with Jackson’s inability (or unwillingness) to play, Jackson’s teammates are starting to wonder what’s going on.
And they’re starting to talk publicly.
“In this league, everybody is pretty much banged up, hurt,” receiver Sammy Watkins told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post on Wednesday. “I don’t want to speak for him and his situation and whatever he’s going through with the contracts. I don’t know what world he’s in. But for me, you got a chance to do something special. We all know with Lamar Jackson out there, this team is really freaking good, and special things can happen. He can will this team to a Super Bowl. I don’t think he’s thinking about it that way. . . .”
That’s a very strong comment, one that questions Jackson’s overall commitment to winning playoff games right now, with his current teammates.
“He’s got an opportunity to win a Super Bowl,” Watkins added. “I hope he hobbles back out there. . . . Put him out for the pass plays, and don’t run him at all. But you never know. That could be wrong. I’m being very selfish right now, just to want him to be out on the field. But, man, what a great thing it would be to see 8 touch the field this Sunday, and we go out there and blow them out. But that’s for Lamar and everybody else to figure out. Hope miraculously something happens, somebody reach out to him, whether it’s a coach or somebody, and he decides to play. But that’s a question if he’s healthy or he’s not. I don’t know. I haven’t been watching him.”
Still, Watkins seems to believe that, if Jackson had his long-term contract, he’d be playing.
“I think the world is ready to see Lamar back on the field, doing what he do best, and get all the stipulations and contract stuff behind him,” Watkins said. “I pray somebody talks to him like, ‘Man, just sign the deal.’ You know what I mean? And he get out there and hopefully, if . . . he’s healthy, he can just come play this Sunday. We all know that’s up to Lamar and whatever goes on. Hopefully, they get something done. The world wants to see Lamar be a Baltimore Raven for the rest of his life. . . . [T]he world wants to watch Lamar Jackson. That’s a phenom talent, a talent that you rarely come by. Things that he do on the field and things that you see, to be quite honest when he’s out there, he makes everybody play better, just to have him in that huddle. I pray that somebody reach out to him or that he’s really truly getting healthy and can play, that he wake up Thursday and be like, ‘All right, forget it. I’m playing.’ I think that would change the whole trajectory of our season.”
Maybe Watkins is the only one on the team who thinks that. Or maybe he’s reflecting the mood of the locker room.
Regardless, it’s probably a good idea for Watkins not to sit next to Jackson on the team plane to Cincinnati.