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Colts’ No. 2-ranked defense respects Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, can’t ‘fear him’

The Indianapolis Colts made the Minnesota Vikings’ Kirk Cousins look like an overpriced free-agent quarterback. They helped make Sam Darnold’s future with the New York Jets even cloudier. They stifled Nick Foles in his first start with the Chicago Bears, holding the Bears to 11 points.

Those accomplishments have the Colts sitting at No. 2 in the NFL in total defense.

But now they’re about to face a different kind of challenge on Sunday: the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, the reigning NFL MVP.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Jackson, who former Colts general manager Bill Polian believed should have switched positions to receiver when he came out of Louisville in 2018, presents multiple obstacles to defenses attempting to slow him down because he’s a threat to run the ball out of Baltimore’s option-type offense. The Ravens use a lot of motion and deception, and they attempt to disguise things offensively with Jackson leading the way.

Veteran pass-rusher Justin Houston didn’t hesitate in calling Jackson the fastest quarterback he has faced in his 10-year NFL career.8

“I played against him, so hands down and by far the quickest, fastest quarterback,” Houston said. “That’s no knock to any other quarterback. There are a lot of quarterbacks with speed, but no other quarterback moves the way he moves in that pocket. When he gets out of the pocket, he is so dangerous.”

Jackson obviously leads the Ravens in passing, but he also leads them in rushing with 411 yards this season. The difference in Jackson this year compared to his NFL MVP season in 2019 is that he hasn’t been as accurate. A season after completing 66.1% of his pass attempts and throwing only six interceptions, the third-year player has completed just 60.5% of his attempts, which ranks 29th in the league, and he has already thrown four interceptions in seven games.nfl cheap jerseys nike

“I think what we bring to the table is an 11-on-1 mentality,” coach Frank Reich said. “I think what we bring to the table is — I know every defense in this league runs to the ball, I’m obviously very biased — I think our defense has a commitment of all 11 guys running to the ball. I think the speed and talent level of our defense as a unit is at a spot that can match up against players like this.”

The weight of the Ravens is on Jackson’s shoulders even more now because they’re dealing with injuries and COVID-19 issues on the roster. Starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley is out for the season with an ankle injury. All-Pro Marlon Humphrey will miss Sunday’s game after testing positive for the coronavirus.

But that doesn’t mean Jackson won’t be effective. The Colts know they can’t be timid against Jackson.

“Biggest thing is don’t play scared,” Houston said. “Respect him, but don’t fear him. Don’t let that slow you down in your rush.”

Those are the two words that will be talked about nonstop this week when it comes to defending Jackson. The defense, as Houston said, has to play fast in pursuing Jackson. At the same time, they can’t be wild while playing fast. That’s where the discipline comes into play.

“The way we talk about it is two sides of the same coin,” Reich said. “Lamar is a great player. He’s going to make his plays, but our goal is to minimize those the best we can. One we way can do that is with speed and discipline. Has to be the combination of both. Like a two-sided coin. One is not more important than the other. They’re equally important. You need both of them to give yourselves a chance to try to stop a guy like Lamar.”