By Brandon Weigel

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson said he’s resumed talks on a contract extension since returning to the team’s facility in Owings Mills, but for now, he’s keeping those conversations with executive vice president and general manager Eric DeCosta private.

Jackson repeatedly smiled and replied with some variation of “We’re having a conversation” when asked for more details about the negotiations.

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Does he think he will be in purple and black for the rest of his career?

“I expect so,” he said. “Yes, I do.”

He also responded to remarks from owner Steve Bisciotti speculating Jackson is so obsessed with winning a Super Bowl that he doesn’t feel worthy of a mega-deal until he brings a Lombardi Trophy to Baltimore.

Asked if he thinks he’s worthy, Jackson said: “Yeah, I think so. I still want my Super Bowl, though.”

The team’s franchise quarterback did reveal, however, that his absence from voluntary OTAs last month had nothing to do with the lack of an extension as he enters the fifth and final year of his rookie year.

After multiple offseason workouts with receivers Rashod Bateman and James Proche, Jackson thought he and his pass-catchers would be able to pick right back up where they left off when mandatory workouts came around.

“We were looking pretty good, so I was like, ‘The chemistry’s going to be there when I get there for camp,'” he said.

Even so, his decision not to attend the voluntary workouts made for plenty of media fodder, some of which Jackson dismissed as “click bait.”

Referring to comments from former NFL quarterback Chris Simms that Tom Brady didn’t miss OTAs this early in his career, Jackson reiterated that he’s trying to carve his own path.

“I look at myself as Lamar Jackson, not Tom Brady,” he said. “I want Super Bowls like Tom Brady, but I’m still myself.”

Appearing at the podium, Bateman and Proche said they’re both tired of the Jackson slander.

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“There’s only been one Lamar Jackson, ever, in this league,” said Proche, labeling the media disrespect as “barbaric.”

But Jackson’s teammates know he doesn’t really care about what’s said about him, Bateman said.

“I think that’s something that I look up to him about,” he said. “Being a Black man in this world today, I think that’s what we pride ourselves on most, is being able to stand up for ourselves in times, when they’re hard. He’s a guy that definitely does that… He definitely shows us that it’s OK to be us, for sure.”

Speaking for the first time since wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, one of his best friends on the team, was dealt during the NFL Draft, Jackson said head coach John Harbaugh had told him about the possibility of a trade, but he didn’t put much stock in it until the move was announced, leading to a tweet of “WTF.”

He realizes now the trade is part of the business of pro football.

“I was kind of hurt, because that’s my boy,” he said. “But it’s all good.”

Jackson’s return to the practice field comes after he effectively missed the final five games of the 2021 season after suffering a bone bruise in his ankle early in the team’s Week 14 game against the Cleveland Browns. After a brilliant 5-1 start that had Jackson in the MVP conversation, the Ravens went 2-4 while QB1 was still healthy — he was inactive with a cold for the team’s 16-13 win over the Chicago Bears — and lost the final six games of the season, including the Week 14 game in Cleveland.

In five of those six games, the outcome was determined by three points or fewer.

Jackson’s ankle didn’t feel fully heal until after the Super Bowl, he said, and shortly after, he started working out with the Ravens’ receivers in California.

During the offseason, Jackson worked with a trainer and added muscle mass, saying he now weighs 220 pounds compared to his usual 205.

“I feel stronger and I feel faster,” he said.

Now that mandatory minicamp is over, Ravens players won’t have to report back to Owings Mills until the start of training camp in July. Jackson and his receivers and tight ends are planning to reconvene at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton to watch film and continue working on routes.

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“Because football season is here, really. We had the offseason back before I came,” he said. “Football season’s here, so we’re going to grind right now.”

Brandon Weigel