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Harbaugh on Lamar rushing 139 times: 'Take the over'

The Baltimore Ravens won't shy away from riding Lamar Jackson's legs.

Joining NFL Network's Inside Training Camp Live on Sunday, coach John Harbaugh was asked by ex-Ravens coach Brian Billick what the pitch count on Jackson running this season might be, noting Cam Newton's career-high is 139 rushing attempts.

"I'd bet the over on that one. I'd bet the over for sure," Harbaugh said without hesitation. "It's going to be interesting. I don't think we know the exact numbers or the math."

Jackson besting Newton's career-high wouldn't be a surprise. The Ravens quarterback already beat that last season, rushing 147 times as a rookie. Jackson averaged 17 rushes per game in his seven regular-season starts. Extrapolate that out and it's 272 for a 16-game slate -- for comparison, only Ezekiel Elliott earned more than that last season among running backs.

Detractors will point out that if Jackson carries the ball that much, he likely won't make it through 16 games.

The more interesting part of Harbaugh's plans for Jackson is that the Ravens aren't just looking to run the QB more than any in history, the picture is bigger. Much bigger.

Harbaugh and his staff are seeking an evolutionary effect on football.

"If you look back and think of the history a little bit, the game was probably revolutionized with Bill Walsh and Joe Montana," Harbaugh said. "And that's been the model for the last 25, 30 years, and we've all been chasing that model, pretty much, trying to find that quarterback, find that rhythm, and all the things that go with that offense, and it really hasn't changed too much.

"None of us can envision what's to come in the future. I don't know how many of the quarterbacks from the 60s or 70s would have been able to succeed. Not too many, probably. (Dan) Marino, I'm sure, could have played in any era, but a lot of those other guys would not have been great in the west-coast-offense-era. What's the next era going to be? Well, we're about to find out. We're about to find out what the limits are on that. I think it's going to open up opportunities for quarterbacks all across, and in our league, and it's going to make it tough on defenses. So, that's the idea."

It's a big idea. No transformative plan started with a small idea.

Whether Harbaugh's Ravens become an evolutionary force or the latest big idea to fall into the sideline ditch depends greatly on whether Jackson stays healthy and develops into a dangerous passer. If he does, and Baltimore blasts through defenses consistently, teams will be in search of the next Lamar Jackson.

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