Ravens QB Lamar Jackson got hurt around this time the past two years. His plan this season? ‘Don’t get hit.’

Lamar Jackson has a simple philosophy when it comes to avoiding injury.

“Just don’t get hit,” he said Tuesday. “That’s all I know.”

Easier said than done. Each of the past two years, the Ravens quarterback has suffered season-ending leg injuries. The first occurred Dec. 12, 2021, in Week 13 against the Cleveland Browns when linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah brought Jackson down by his ankles as he scrambled away from pressure. The next happened Dec. 12 last year — in Week 12 against the Denver Broncos — after outside linebacker Jonathon Cooper sacked Jackson from behind, resulting in a knee injury.

On Thursday night, the Ravens and their $260 million star got another scare.

Late in the first quarter of Baltimore’s eventual 34-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, Jackson scrambled toward the sideline on a third-and-4 from the Ravens’ 37-yard line and threw an underhanded pass that fell incomplete as he was brought to the ground by Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson. Jackson stayed down for a few harrowing moments — Baltimore had already lost tight end Mark Andrews earlier in the game on a similar tackle by Wilson — and was looked at by trainers before getting up on his own and hobbling to the bench. He then disappeared into the team’s blue medical tent but emerged quickly, giving a thumbs-up and returning on the next series without missing a play.

After the game, teammates and coaches praised the 26-year-old Jackson for his toughness, with coach John Harbaugh saying the way he bounced back was “impressive,” and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. calling Jackson going right back in the game a “big leadership moment.”

But there were also questions, given the play and given Jackson’s eerie history of having his season cut short after 12 games each of the past two years. When asked about the heating pad wrapped around his ankle on the bench, Jackson, perhaps realizing he’d just completed his 11th game of the season, wasn’t having it.

“We need to stop talking about this ankle,” he said, knocking his knuckles on the wooden podium. “I’m good. You see I just walked up here. I’m good. We’re not going to talk none of it into existence. I’m good.”

Five days later, that was still the case.

“I’m good,” said Jackson, smiling and jogging in place when asked how his ankle was feeling. “I’m 100%.”

The same can’t be said for some of the other first-string quarterbacks around the AFC North.

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson’s season is over after he suffered a displaced fracture in his right shoulder during Cleveland’s Week 10 win over the Ravens. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, meanwhile, suffered a season-ending ligament tear in his right wrist in the second quarter against Baltimore.

That leaves just the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Kenny Pickett and Jackson — who signed a five-year, $260 million contract in April — as the last starting quarterbacks standing in the division.

“I’m not happy that those guys got injured,” Jackson said when asked to make sense of the two quarterbacks having their seasons end within days of each other. “I don’t want to see [anybody] in the league get injured, especially a season-ending injury because those guys have to feed their families just like I do.

“Even though we’re going against each other, division rivals, stuff like that, at the end of the day, I don’t want to see anybody go down with a season-ending injury.”

That Jackson hasn’t suffered a similar fate this season is maybe part serendipity, part having learned from past experiences.

A big part of what makes the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player so dynamic and difficult to defend is his ability to run. But that’s also what makes him most vulnerable.

Through the first 11 games of this season, he’s taken his share of shots. Already, he’s been sacked 27 times, or just 11 shy of his career-high total in 2021 — when he suffered a season-ending ankle injury. He has also run for 535 yards on 101 carries, which has at times put him in harm’s way on more than a few occasions.

That’s football, but is there an art to learning how to avoid a big blow?

The Miami Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered at least two concussions last season, spent part of his offseason studying jujitsu, a sport in which falling is a skill.

While Jackson’s and Tagovailoa’s injuries were vastly different, the Dolphins quarterback has not missed any games this season and has been one of the league’s best quarterbacks, throwing for 2,934 yards with 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He missed four games with concussions last year.

Jackson, likewise, has stayed on the field and not missed a snap, though his approach has been a tad simpler.

“I’ll say I don’t slide, but I get down,” he said. “I get under hits; I’ll say that, but that’s it, I guess.”

With seven games remaining, the AFC’s best record and Super Bowl aspirations, the Ravens hope he continues to do so.

One thing that won’t make it easy is the next two months. Based on defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA), Baltimore has the NFL’s toughest remaining schedule with games against the Chargers, Rams, Jaguars, 49ers, Dolphins and Steelers. Among that group, Jackson will face some of the league’s best defenses and top pass rushers, including the Rams’ Aaron Donald, San Francisco’s Chase Young and Nick Bosa, Miami’s Bradley Chubb and Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt.

He’ll try to heed his own advice: “Don’t get hit.”


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