In their separate Combine press conferences, Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta and head coach John Harbaugh both brushed aside a question about quarterback Lamar Jackson not attending the postseason game at Cincinnati.
DeCosta didn’t address it further. But ironically, Harbaugh circled back to it when he received a question about his first impressions of Jackson when he met the quarterback in the draft process.
“Nobody does more than Lamar,” Harbaugh said. “I promise you — to your other question back there, I didn’t mean to skip over it, but if he could’ve played, just like all four players, he would’ve played. There’s no question in my mind about that. And he would’ve played as soon as he was ready to play. You know? Hopefully it would’ve been the next week, I don’t know.
“Never doubt that about Lamar Jackson. He’s going to be out there. He’s going to be competing. He’s going to be giving everything he’s got in every situation.”
As a follow-up, Harbaugh was asked if it said something about Jackson as a leader that he wasn’t there.
“I don’t think so,” Harbaugh said. “I think his focus was on getting himself back on the field. You talk all about that stuff, but he was thinking singularly about one thing — rehabbing, keeping the swelling out of his knee as much as he could. That’s all he was thinking about. That’s all he talked about.”
Jackson missed the last five games of the regular season and the postseason loss to the Bengals with a PCL injury.
The Ravens and Jackson are currently still engaged in a long-term contract negotiation. DeCosta said on Wednesday that he’s “hopeful” Baltimore won’t have to use the franchise tag on Jackson. But it still appears likely that the club will have to use that tool to keep him fully off the open market.