If Joe Flacco felt pressure to perform a month ago, it's all but dissipated. The veteran has looked stellar with a revamped offensive cast around him. His main competition, first-round rookie Lamar Jackson, meanwhile has struggled to make the transition.
Through three preseason appearances, Jackson has flashed some playmaking ability, but overall, he's struggled as a passer.
Jackson's Monday night debut started off agonizingly slow. The rookie led three three-and-outs, completing zero of his four passes, and taking a sack. He finished the night 7-of-15 passing for 49 yards with one TD pass and 26 yards rushing.
"I came out cold," Jackson said. "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 games of the preseason, Jackson is 18-of-43 passing (42 percent), earning a 4.7 yards per throw average, with two passing touchdowns, one INT and one rushing score.
Despite the struggles, coach John Harbaugh continues to praise the rookie.
"That's the great thing about Lamar. He's confident. He's going to keep competing," Harbaugh said. "He's always going to believe that he can make the play to turn the game. He did a great job of doing that."
Added Harbaugh: "There's no question in my mind that he has a great future."
Jackson's struggles out of the gate shouldn't come as a surprise. The former Heisman Trophy winner was likely going to need time to grow into a starting NFL QB. The rookie's uneven play, however, might cause the Ravens to keep Robert Griffin III around as insurance if Flacco goes down and Jackson isn't ready to carry a playoff-caliber roster.