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Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Chicago Bears, 17-16, in the 2018 Hall of Fame Game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Thursday night.
Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, played the entire second half and finished 4-of-10 for 33 yards and a touchdown. The 21-year-old also logged eight carries for 25 yards after coming on in relief of Robert Griffin III.
RG3 Flashes Backup Potential With Strong Performance
The Ravens have generally strayed from rostering three quarterbacks with Joe Flacco in the fold, but Robert Griffin III may give the coaching staff something to think about if Thursday was any indication.
The former No. 2 overall pick finished 7-of-11 for 58 yards, one touchdown and one interception—which was the product of a drop by Breshad Perriman—and he looked at ease making quick reads out of short drops.
Pro Football Focus @PFF
A look at how tonight’s starting quarterbacks performed. https://t.co/i3MrhF9mY1
Griffin also appeared comfortable throwing on the move, as was the case when he fired a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Maxx Williams in the first quarter:
.@RGIII ➡️ @williams_maxx ➡️ End zone.
The @Ravens are on the board! #CHIvsBAL
📺: NBC https://t.co/7Bu1LnZy24
If nothing else, it was clear Griffin still has the tools necessary to garner consideration as a backup.
The issue is that such an opportunity isn’t likely to present itself in Baltimore.
Not only do the Ravens tend to avoid cluttering the depth chart under center, but Flacco and Jackson also are locked in as the team’s top two signal-callers. In other words, RG3’s best case scenario in Baltimore would be a third-string gig that leaves him inactive on game days.
However, it stands to reason a productive preseason could put him on the radar of competing clubs in need of second-string upgrades.
Bears Expectations Hard to Gauge After Sitting Regulars in HOF Game
Drawing conclusions from preseason play is an inexact science to begin with, which made Thursday the ultimate test for those looking to glean any sort of information about the Bears’ upcoming campaign under first-year head coach Matt Nagy.
Taking the cautious route, Chicago benched quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, running backs Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard and wide receivers Allen Robinson, Kevin White, Anthony Miller and Taylor Gabriel.
That left Chase Daniel (8-of-16, 53 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT) to start, while Benny Cunningham (6 carries, 37 yards) operated as the Bears’ lead back. On the receiving front, rookie Javon Wims led all Bears pass-catchers with seven catches for 89 yards.
Come Week 1, those won’t be the names making waves in the Windy City.
Fortunately for Bears fans, Trubisky and the Bears’ premier skill position contributors should be in the mix next week.
Lamar Jackson Shows Tantalizing Upside Despite Rookie Mistakes
Lamar Jackson’s first preseason performance wasn’t flawless.
That said, it was easy to see why the Ravens are bullish on his dual-threat stylings after trading up to select him at No. 32 overall in April.
Jackson looked fluid as ever running outside the pocket, and his pocket presence was encouraging—especially on his second series under center.
@Lj_era8 will juke you out of your cleats. #CHIvsBAL
📺: NBC https://t.co/LWnnsF5Uq2
That drive, which spanned 36 yards over six plays, was punctuated by Jackson’s eight-yard touchdown pass to fellow first-rounder Hayden Hurst:
Bleacher Report NFL @BR_NFL
Who’s ready for @Lj_era8?
He gets a TD in his first drive 💰 (via @NFL)
However, there were also some glaring mistakes—like when Jackson was intercepted after making a late throw to his receiver on a comeback pattern:
That @ChicagoBears defense: 🐻⬇️
And comes up with the PICK! #CHIvsBAL
📺: NBC https://t.co/Wgrio5sGzX
If nothing else, the pick was a stern reminder NFL defensive backs are faster and far less forgiving than the ones defending the boundary at the collegiate level.
Tom Fornelli @TomFornelli
My biggest takeaway from Lamar Jackson tonight is that you’ve seen the reasons he can be a successful NFL QB but you’ve also seen all the reasons he’d be better off not having to start this season.
But for an opening statement, there was plenty to be intrigued by.
Both squads will be back in action Aug. 9. The Bears will travel to Paul Brown Stadium for a meeting with the Cincinnati Bengals, while the Ravens get set to host the Los Angeles Rams at M&T Bank Stadium.