BALTIMORE (AP) — There might come a time when Lamar Jackson will have earned the right to sit out the preseason opener and watch the backups try to earn a job in the NFL.
For now, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner needs the work.
Jackson directed two scoring drives in three possessions and the Baltimore Ravens’ defense throttled Jacksonville Jaguars backup quarterback Gardner Minshew in a 29-0 preseason victory Thursday night.
The Jaguars played without quarterback Nick Foles, the 2018 Super Bowl MVP who was signed as a free agent in March. Foles was one of 32 players who were either injured or rested by coach Doug Marrone in the preseason opener, which came after the teams held two joint practices earlier in the week.
Jackson, on the other hand, played the entire first quarter.
Asked to compare Marrone’s decision to rest Foles to his choice of playing Jackson, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said, “He’s a Super Bowl champion. You think he needs to play a game in the preseason? Our guy’s in his second season. It’s an easy decision.”
Jackson went 4 for 6 for 59 yards and a touchdown. Looking to pass rather than flash the speed that enabled him to rush for 695 yards last year, Jackson completed a 30-yarder to Chris Moore on his first throw of the night to set up a 52-yard field goal by Justin Tucker.
Jackson’s second crack at the ball resulted in a four-and-out, but not long after that he capped his brief night of work with a 6-yard TD pass to Willie Snead for a 10-0 lead.
“I feel we did pretty good, for the most part,” said Jackson, who had no complaints about being on the field in early August.
“Whatever the coach wants,” he said. “I’m only a sophomore in the league. I really haven’t did anything. We’re going to play ball. I love it.”
With Foles on the sideline, Minshew, drafted in the sixth round out of Washington State, proved to be fodder for a defense that last year was ranked No. 1. Minshew lost his helmet when struck on a first-quarter foray out of the pocket, and in the second quarter he got hit a whole lot harder after mishandling a snap. Minshew quickly picked up the ball, just an instant before Kenny Young swooped in untouched and applied a crushing tackle that separated the quarterback from his helmet — again.
“I think it looked a lot cooler than it felt,” Minshew said. “It looked very bad, but when you don’t see it, it isn’t that bad.”
Still, the Jaguars gave up four sacks and completed only 10 passes.
“Gardner was hit a lot. We didn’t do a lot of things up front. That’s a concern,” Marrone said.
Minshew was mercifully lifted after going 7 for 14 for 46 yards. Tanner Lee started the third quarter and was immediately sacked twice before throwing an interception that Cyrus Jones returned 19 yards for a touchdown for a 26-0 lead.
Foles likely would have done much better, but Marrone wasn’t interested in finding out.
“We have to figure out who is the No. 2 quarterback and keep playing him,” the coach said. “It’s not like you have a lot of game time, where it really counts. We have to keep playing these guys and see who is our backup quarterback.”
Jacksonville’s only entry into the end zone, on an early kickoff return by Keelan Cole, was wiped out by a penalty.
Former Penn State quarterback and sixth-round draft pick Trace McSorley made his NFL debut for Baltimore, completing 9 of 22 passes for 85 yards and an interception.
The Ravens haven’t lost a preseason game since 2015, winning 14 straight.
“I’m still mad about that one,” Harbaugh said about the 20-19 defeat to Atlanta on Sept. 3, 2015. “We like to win. I think winning is better than losing, and we don’t do much different than anybody else.”
Jaguars: Backup LB D.J. Alexander sustained a stinger. … RB Ryquell Armstead was evaluated for a concussion.
Jaguars: Perhaps Marrone figured it would be a far better story line if Foles made his Jaguars debut against his former team, Philadelphia, next Thursday night in Jacksonville.
Ravens: The Green Bay Packers come to town to help Baltimore close out the home portion of its preseason schedule next Thursday night.