Michael Vick, arguably the best running quarterback in NFL history, told Jameson Hensley of ESPN.com that Baltimore Ravens signal-caller Lamar Jackson should "proceed with caution" in regards to his runs.
"With quarterbacks, we're not used to getting hit all the time," said Vick, who played in the league for 13 seasons. "When we do it, it can either get you into the game or it can shake you up a little bit. It's not like a guy sitting in the pocket, you run the risk of getting injured. I'm not saying that should deter Lamar or scare him; I'm just saying proceed with caution."
A 21-year-old rookie from for Louisville who won the Heisman Trophy in 2016, Jackson has started his team's last two games and rushed 37 times, including 26 against the Cincinnati Bengals in a 24-21 win.
Vick has good reason to warn Jackson, as a 2003 scramble in preseason left him with a broken leg that forced him to miss nearly the entire season.
That didn't stop the Atlanta Falcon from running, as he notably had a career-high 120 rushing attempts the following year. However, Vick never ran more than 8.3 times per game in a given season. Jackson's current rushing rate of 18.5 times per game after two starts clearly isn't sustainable at the pro level, which begs the question of how often Baltimore will let him run long term. Vick told Hensley that he thought "10 or 12" runs was the best option.
However, Hensley also wrote "Vick acknowledged that his 873 runs took a cumulative toll on him." If Jackson rushes for 10 to 12 times per game, those hits are going to add up quickly. Focusing on the lower end of that range, 10 times per game is 160 over a 16-game season. Those are numbers for a running back in a committee.
Jackson's rushing prowess has clearly helped the Ravens save their season, as the team has a hold on the final AFC wild-card spot at 6-5 with five games left.
The Ravens may need to let Jackson run more often to catapult into the playoffs, but moving past 2018, it's hard seeing Jackson being able to run for double-digit carries season after season.
Still, he's still one of the better young talents in the game and has tremendous potential. If he develops more on the passing side, Jackson should become one of the NFL's best quarterbacks given his versatility.