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John Harbaugh thinks 'next step' for Lamar Jackson is downfield

It's the phenomenally fleet feet of Lamar Jackson that often give him separation from opposing defenders and his quarterback counterparts.

However, the next step forward for Jackson will be with his arm, according to Ravens coach John Harbaugh.

After setting a new single-season rushing standard, Baltimore will no doubt see stacked defenses and it will fall upon Jackson to keep them honest by going downfield.

"Those corners are going to be one-on-one and those safeties are going to be one-on-one against receivers, especially on downfield throws, and we got to make them pay for it," Harbaugh said Thursday via the team website. "I really do believe that's the next step for this offense from an execution standpoint. I really do believe Lamar is going to take the next step and our receivers are going to take the next step."

Buoyed by an NFL-record 3,296 yards rushing, the Ravens tallied a league-best 531 points in 2019.

In the NFL, though, defenses catch up fast and going deep downfield is an avenue the Ravens didn't venture down all that often.

Rookie Marquise Brown was the top wideout on the team with just 46 catches for 584 yards with tight end Mark Andrews taking on the part of Jackson's top target with 64 receptions and 852 yards.

Harbaugh isn't suggesting the Ravens won't still lean on their vaunted ground game, but they'll need to take advantage of what the running game opens up.

"I wouldn't say we're going to scrap the run game and I wouldn't say we're going to become a more conventional offense – that's the last thing we want to do," Harbaugh said. "We didn't change the offense to scrap the idea that we want to cause people problems. We just want to get better at taking advantage of weaknesses."

On his way to garnering NFL Most Valuable Player honors, Jackson mystified opposing defenses. Now his head coach is planning on Jackson taking another step forward to prevent those defenses from catching up.

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