DeSean Jackson hopes to bring ‘spark’ after joining Ravens

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — DeSean Jackson has resurfaced with the Baltimore Ravens, feeling as if he still has plenty to offer to a receiving group that could use a jolt.

“Really the biggest thing is being a spark,” he said after practice Wednesday. “Implementing a deep threat, vertical down the field, big explosive plays. Honestly, whatever it is they ask me to do, whatever my number’s called on, whenever it’s called, just do everything I can to get ready.”

Jackson is on the practice squad for now, and coach John Harbaugh was noncommittal about the possibility of him being activated for Sunday’s game against Cleveland. The 35-year-old Jackson hasn’t played this season after spending 2021 with the Rams and Raiders.

“Just sitting back, kind of seeing the season go along, I’m like, ‘You know, I still got more to put out there,’” he said. “So I was just excited about the opportunity to be able to come here and be an addition to this great team.”

The Ravens (3-3) haven’t been able to get on a roll yet this season, and the wide receiver group in particular has had its ups and downs.

Star quarterback Lamar Jackson is a major threat with his arm and his legs, but he’s never really had the type of consistent, game-breaking receiver that Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow and Josh Allen have thrown to.

Baltimore has one of the game’s top tight ends in Mark Andrews, and Jackson relies on him extensively. The Ravens also drafted receiver Rashod Bateman in the first round in 2021, but after catching long touchdowns in each of this season’s first two games, he hasn’t reached the end zone since and missed the past two games with foot problems. Bateman was a limited participant in practice Wednesday.

“He’s our top guy, so we definitely need him back out there, but he (should) just take his time,” Lamar Jackson said. “When he comes back, I feel like we’re going to need him at the perfect time.”

Devin Duvernay has turned into a nice possession receiver, but he had only one catch last weekend. Demarcus Robinson has nine receptions on the season, while James Proche and Tylan Wallace have combined for four.

“I think James Proche is going to step up in the next few weeks, and you’re going to see him make some plays,” Harbaugh said. “We were in some bigger personnel groups last week. The team we were playing — the Giants — that was a bigger team and we felt like we wanted to match big for big a little bit in certain situations. So, that group wasn’t on the field as much. James only had what, three plays I think? He’s going to be playing a lot more in the future.”

Jackson had 20 catches for 454 yards and two TDs last season for Los Angeles and Las Vegas. He hasn’t had a 1,000-yard receiving season since 2016, but if he can be an occasional deep threat, the Ravens don’t really have anyone besides Bateman who has done that this season.

“I feel like guys are going to have to play him off, because he’s still flying,” Lamar Jackson said. “Even though it’s Year 15 for him, it looks like Year One. He’s going to bring a lot to the table for us. We’re just going to have to see if he gets out there.”

NOTES: Andrews (knee), DE Calais Campbell (foot), G Ben Cleveland (foot), RB J.K. Dobbins (knee), T Morgan Moses (heel), FB Patrick Ricard (knee) and CB Marcus Peters (rest) did not practice. Lamar Jackson (hip), LB Justin Houston (groin) and T Ronnie Stanley (ankle) were limited. RB Justice Hill (hamstring) was a full participant.

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Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister

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