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Raiders prepare for likely matchup against Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson can run; he’s shown that time after time.

The rookie quarterback ran for over 4,000 yards during his three seasons at Louisville, and in his first extended run in the pros, he quite literally ran all over the Cincinnati Bengals to the tune of 117 yards on 27 rushes.

When looking at Jackson’s body of work – albeit it a small sample size in the pros – it’s easy to think of him as just another ultra-athletic quarterback, who would rather take off with his legs than stand in the pocket.

And to be fair, when you look at the video game-type of stats he put up in college, that’s an easy trap to fall into, but Head Coach Jon Gruden knows that Jackson has the ability to win a game with his arm as well.

“You have to look at his body of work at Louisville to really get, I think, a true respect for him [Jackson],” said Gruden Wednesday. “Remember, he’s been a backup quarterback. He hasn’t been getting the reps. Last week was the first time, I think, they put together a gameplan for him, and don’t forget this guy can throw the ball. You have to go back and watch him at Louisville to get a better feel for him, so it’s going to be tough. We’re going to have to try to make some on-the-fly adjustments and be very careful with the plays that you call.”

You can also count the Raiders starting quarterback as a fan of what the explosive rookie is doing in the infant stages of his NFL career.

“I love Lamar,” Derek Carr said. “You guys know that. Lamar knows that. I told him, talked to him as he was coming out. Just told him, ‘if you ever need anything,’ I’m here for him. Obviously, not this week, Lamar – I can’t tell him anything this week – but I think the world of him, and I think his future is so bright, because he brings a dynamic to the game that we really haven’t seen in a long time, you know what I mean? With his speed – he’s 4.2 – 4.2 speed, can throw the ball 80 yards, all that kind of stuff, and as he just continues to hone his craft, he’s going to be really dangerous, and what I saw, just the little bit that I was able to see on highlights, the different run games they can run, it reminds me a lot of what they did at Louisville, watching that, watching those games.”

As Carr noted, Jackson is a speedster, possessing a unique ability not commonplace even in today’s NFL; so, with a few days to prepare for what he brings to the offense, how will the Raiders try to simulate Jackson’s ability?

“Well, we have [wide receiver] Rico Gafford who runs about 4.2,” Gruden explained. “He’ll get a ball and will run around, and we’ll try to run him down… Johnny Holton can run really fast, so we’ll have him take turns. The best I can tell you, we’re going to be very, very creative in how we emulate and try to simulate the Ravens.”

While Jackson’s position as the starter for Sunday’s game at M&T Bank Stadium is not 100% cemented – Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh is understandably not tipping his hand too much this early in the week – the fact that Joe Flacco didn’t practice Wednesday gives more credence to the fact that Jackson is the likely man to get the call for Week 12.

And while the long-term future at the quarterback position for the Ravens remains a mystery, just looking at the immediate, if Jackson indeed the one tasked with trying to take down the Raiders, the Silver and Black will have to plan for a way to limit his big-play ability with both his arm and his legs.

“I think he’s a very special, special player,” Carr said. “And as he continues to learn this game, and the speed of things, what throws he can get away with and all those things, which ones he can’t, as long as he continues to work, he’s going to be hard to stop for years to come.”

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