Ravens QB Lamar Jackson could be running less with Derrick Henry in fold

OWINGS MILLS – Lamar Jackson has led the Ravens in rushing attempts in four of his six years with the team.

However, the number of Jackson’s carries has been trending downward, which will likely continue this season.

With four-time Pro Bowler Derrick Henry in the backfield, Jackson could be handing the ball off even more and focused on making throws downfield.

“We have a great line to block for [Henry], and we know what type of player he is, we know the type of defense we have, [we] know what type of skill players we have here,” Jackson said. “I feel like we’re getting there.”

Jackson led the Ravens in carries in 2018 (147), 2020 (159), 2021 (133, tied with Devonta Freeman), and 2022 (112). Mark Ingram led the Ravens with 202 carries in 2019 and Gus Edwards had a team-high 198 rushing attempts last season.

The Ravens acquired Henry in March and he has been a workhorse over his career. He carried the ball 300 or more times in four of the past five seasons.

“If [Derrick Henry] carries it 300 times, we’re having a hell of a year,” Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. “It means we’re running it a lot. It means we’re up in games. We want him to finish, [and] we want him to be the closer. First and foremost, like every player, we want him to make it through the season.”

Henry has appeared in 119 regular-season games, totaling 9,502 rushing yards and 90 touchdowns on 2,030 carries (4.7 average). He has added 1,458 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 155 receptions (9.4 average), while also throwing four touchdowns (7-for-9 passing for 37 yards) during his career.

Since 2017, Henry has led the NFL in almost every major rushing category, including yards (9,012), touchdowns (85), yards per game (86.7), attempts (1,920), and gains of 10-plus yards (220).

In 2020, Henry (2,027) became just the eighth player in NFL history to eclipse 2,000 rushing yards in a season, en route to being named the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year. He also became the first player since LaDainian Tomlinson (2006-07) to lead the NFL in rushing yards for two consecutive seasons (2019-20).

“Gus had a tremendous year for us in terms of yards [and] touchdowns, and we expect the same from Derrick,” Monken said. “He’s a tremendous football player. He’s been great. He’s been here the whole offseason, and [it] doesn’t really change anything per se, because to me, he’s a really versatile player, not only running the ball but getting the ball in space and throwing him the ball and getting him out on the perimeter and see if some of your defensive backs can tackle him.”

Jackson is one of the best dual quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. Last season, he led the Ravens with 821 yards rushing, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and five scores.

Jackson’s seven 50-yard rushing games gave Jackson 54 in his career, tying Michael Vick’s all-time mark for quarterbacks. He is the first quarterback to run for 700 or more yards in five consecutive seasons.

However, the focus has been on making more explosive plays downfield with his arm. With Henry in the backfield, teams will have to keep more defenders at the line of scrimmage, which could make opponents more vulnerable in the secondary.

The Ravens are looking to take advantage of those matchups. New schemes could be getting two tight ends — Isaiah Likely and Mark Andrews — more involved and throwing the ball over opposing secondaries.

“With the way Isaiah Likely came on and having Mark, Pat Ricard [and] the wideouts we have, we do have tremendous skills,” Monken said. “So, how do we utilize each player and their elite skill set? What is that? How can we utilize that?

“So, that has been a big part of the offseason with those guys and how do we get them – when and how – on the field that allows us to be very consistent on offense and score touchdowns.”


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