Ravens running back Mark Ingram took a short pass over the middle from quarterback Lamar Jackson, found space and burst up the seam. There was no tackling at the OTA workout, but Ingram was well on his way to a gain of 20 yards or more.
That's the kind of weapon the Ravens hope they have in Ingram, and perhaps in rookie fourth-round pick Justice Hill, who had limited experience as a pass-catching back at Oklahoma State but who posted the fastest 40-yard dash time among running backs at the NFL Scouting Combine this spring.
While the Ravens have talked much about rebuilding their offense from the ground up, and while the running game figures to be a major part of it again, one facet of their new offense appears to be a fairly simple concept: Get the ball in the hands of playmakers in space, and let them do the rest.
Ingram, 29, was signed to a three-year, $15 million free-agent deal this spring and the two-time Pro Bowl pick, who has a pair of 1,000-yard rushing seasons, could supplant Gus Edwards as the Ravens' starting running back. As he showed at the OTA workout, he also brings versatility and experience as a receiver.
Playing with Drew Brees in New Orleans, Ingram averaged about 29 catches a season throughout his first eight seasons. That includes an average of 44 the past four seasons, during which time he averaged 7.5 yards a catch. Buck Allen, the Ravens' leading backfield receiver last year, averaged 5.6 yards a catch and was phased out of the offensive plan during the final two months of the season. Kenneth Dixon averaged 8.5 yards on six catches, with a 21-yarder at Kansas City boosting that average.
Ingram's pass-catching ability could play well in the Ravens' new offense if Jackson seeks shorter, high-percentage throws. Speaking after the May 23 workout, Ingram said he's been impressed with his new quarterback.
"He can throw it," Ingram said. "I've seen him make a lot of tight throws in tight windows. I've seen him make some deep throws. I've seen him go through his progressions and make checkdowns to hit guys in second windows and zones. So he's making his reads and getting better.
"Of course, there are going to be times where he might throw something that he wants to have back, but that's a part of growing, that's a part of maturing as a young quarterback," Ingram added. "I played with Drew Brees for eight years and there are throws he wishes he had back. So that's just part of the process and part of growing and improving every single day. You can tell that [Jackson] wants to be great and that he wants to be the best, and we're all behind him and supporting him. We want him to be the best as well."
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