The battle between the youngsters is intense: Justin Herbert of the Chargers vs. Lamar Jackson of the Ravens

Justin Herbert led the Chargers to touchdowns in their last four completed possessions on Sunday, the team coming back from a 14-point deficit for a dramatic last-minute victory.

In the previous three games, Herbert has thrown for 11 touchdowns and has run for 12th with no turnovers.

There has been talk that this professional in his sophomore year is becoming a league MVP candidate.

However, coming in on Sunday, Herbert won’t even be the quarterback when the Chargers visit Baltimore.

Lamar Jackson is coming off a performance in which he completed 37 of 43 attempts for 442 yards and four touchdowns, and also rushed 14 times for 62 yards.

The Ravens also scored touchdowns on their final four possessions, rebounding from a 19-point deficit and defeating Indianapolis in overtime.

“He can run,” Herbert said of Jackson. “He can pitch. I don’t think his airplay gets enough credit. … If protection is sold, he’s able to get out of there and make plays that no one else on this planet. can do”.

The Ravens have spoken in similar tones this week about Herbert. Similar tones but also somewhat disconcerting.

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) blocks out ambient noise while trying to hear the play call.

Justin Herbert’s calm impresses his fellow Chargers mates.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Defensive coordinator Don Martindale told reporters in Baltimore that Herbert “could throw a delicate strawberry through a battleship,” a phrase apparently first uttered years ago by former NFL head coach Rex Ryan.

On Friday, Herbert was asked for his reaction to that assessment.

“I hope he said it in a good way,” Herbert expressed after an initial look of surprise.

When it was mentioned that the comment was intended to praise the strength of his arm, Herbert smiled and added, “I really appreciate the ambles words.”

Praising Herbert has become a weekly tradition at the Chargers’ training facilities in and around Costa Mesa. It is in the top 10 in almost every major statistical category.

The Chargers have won eight of their last nine games dating back to last season and, at 4-1, are tied with Baltimore and Buffalo for the best record in the AFC.

“His mindset is to be focused and not blink,” said center Corey Linsley.

A year ago around this time, Herbert was consecutively facing Tom Brady and Drew Brees, two all-time greats.

Now, he’s on a stretch to face Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield and Jackson – three of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL – in four weeks.

“My job is to give the ball to my teammates who make the plays,” Herbert said. “Just give them the ball and they will make something special happen.”

Against Jackson and the Ravens, this clash could come down to who makes something special happen.


Coach Brandon Staley said the Chargers are “hopeful” that wide receiver Mike Williams can play Sunday. He did not practice this week due to the swelling in his knee. “We’re just trying to be careful with him these days, to make sure he’s feeling his best for Sunday,” Staley explained. … Safety Nasir Adderley is questionable due to a hip pointer. … Linebacker Drue Tranquill was ruled out Friday while dealing with a chest muscle injury. Staley explained that the Chargers plan to have rookies Nick Niemann and Amen Ogbongbemiga share the time to fill in for Tranquill. The team is already without linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. who is on injured reserve with an ankle problem. … Running back Justin Jackson (groin) will return against Baltimore after missing a game.

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