Top Storylines From Wednesday’s NFL OTAs: Lamar Jackson Loses Weight, Saquon Barkley Impressed With Eagles’ Playmakers

NFL OTAs are underway for all but one of the league's 32 teams. We run down several of the most notable storylines from Wednesday's activities.

A new phase of the NFL offseason is underway as 31 of the league’s teams have officially begun voluntary OTAs (organized team activities) this week, marking a key milestone in the leadup to the 2024 season.

Top Storylines From Wednesday’s NFL OTAs

NFL OTAs are one of the first key steps as teams begin preparing for the upcoming season in earnest, allowing all players and coaches to hit the practice field together. Although no live contact is permitted, teams are allowed to run drills ranging from 7-on-7 to 9-on-7 or even 11-on-11.

Although the official start of the season is still off in the distance, there are still plenty of notable storylines coming out of the proceedings. Let’s take a look at some of the top storylines from Wednesday’s practices and media availabilities.

Saquon Barkley Marvels at Eagles’ Wealth of Skill Position Talent

Saquon Barkley is among the Philadelphia Eagles players who got OTAs underway this week. Wednesday marks their second session together.

The star running back signed a three-year, $37.75 million contract with Philadelphia in free agency after spending the first six years of his career with the NFC East rival New York Giants. Injuries have limited Barkley’s production at times over the last few years, but he has remained one of the NFL’s top backs when healthy.

Barkley is just the latest addition to an Eagles offense loaded with playmakers heading into 2024. Between quarterback Jalen Hurts, wide receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, and tight end Dallas Goedert, the group has made an early impression on Barkley.

“Biggest thing that struck me is my first 7-on-7 huddle,” Barkley told reporters. “You see A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, Jalen Hurts. That’s not a bad group to be out there with, and that’s not even including offensive linemen.”

Mike McCarthy ‘Very, Very Pleased’ With Trey Lance

Elsewhere in the NFC East, the Dallas Cowboys were also in action on the day. Dak Prescott appears to be set as Dallas’ quarterback for at least the 2024 season, but backup quarterback Trey Lance has apparently made an impression thus far during OTAs.

Lance did not appear in a game last season after the Cowboys traded a 2024 fourth-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers to acquire him during the 2023 preseason. He had some sporadic success across brief stints playing QB for the Niners, throwing for a total of 797 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions across eight appearances (four starts).

Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy seems to have taken notice of Lance’s performance in OTAs, telling reporters he is “very, very pleased” with Lance. He also mentioned a change to Lance’s throwing fundamentals that has helped improve his timing, and he noted Lance will play a “large part” in the preseason.

Lamar Jackson Says He Lost Weight to Become ‘More Agile’

Lamar Jackson appears to have made a bit of a physical change after winning his second MVP award last year. The star quarterback told reporters that he has lost weight to get below the 230-pound mark as he looks to become “more agile” and so that he can “be able to move more” in 2024.

Jackson also made some of his first handoffs to veteran running back Derrick Henry on Wednesday as the pair look to build chemistry as some of the Baltimore Ravens‘ key playmakers.

Henry signed a two-year, $16 million deal with Baltimore in free agency, ending his long tenure with the Tennessee Titans. Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters he had been impressed with Henry’s approach in the weight room, the meeting room, and the practice field.

Xavier Worthy, Hollywood Brown Impressing in Chiefs’ WR Room

The Kansas City Chiefs were plagued by dropped passes for much of the 2023 regular season. They now have two new pass-catchers at wide receiver who could help mitigate those issues in 2024. Rookie wideout Xavier Worthy and veteran Hollywood Brown have both made an impression on superstar QB Patrick Mahomes during OTAs.

Mahomes told reporters that Brown has been “a good addition to our offense” as a big-play threat down the field, and he said Worthy has showcased his intelligence despite being sidelined with a minor hamstring issue.

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said Worthy “was only out there for a day and a half” after tweaking his hamstring earlier this week.

Brandon Aiyuk Not Taking Part in 49ers’ OTAs

Among the many notable absences from this week’s voluntary OTAs, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk is not in attendance for the team’s proceedings. NFL Network’s Kevin Patra reported on Wednesday that Aiyuk continues holding out for a new contract.

MORE: 2024 NFL Wide Receiver Rankings

Aiyuk is slated to earn $14.124 million on his fifth-year option in 2024, though time will tell if the sides are able to agree to an extension or if Aiyuk ends up playing out the season on his current deal.

Anthony Richardson Isn’t Concerned About His Play Style

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson enjoyed quite a chaotic rookie season. While Richardson showed flashes of brilliance, he also dealt with multiple injuries. Many have pointed to Richardson’s reckless play style as the main culprit.

Yet the young quarterback doesn’t believe his play style is an issue at all. Richardson was asked about potentially changing how he plays the game after dealing with so many injuries during his rookie season.

“Changing my game and my play style? I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong with my play style,” Richardson said. “People see me, I’m a big quarterback, so they always think, ‘Oh, he wants to run the ball all the time, he wants to be physical and that’s what’s gonna get him hurt.’ But that’s not the case.”

Geno Smith Embracing Sam Howell, Ready To Push Each Other To Get Better Together

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith is no stranger to quarterback controversy. After struggling to start his career in the NFL, Smith eventually won the starting job in Seattle as he rose to another level.

Now Smith is being forced to welcome a new quarterback in Seattle, as the Seahawks traded for Sam Howell earlier this offseason. Ironically enough, Howell is actually on a similar path to what Smith dealt with earlier in his career.

KEEP READING: NFL OTAs Tracker: Injuries, Holdouts, More

Both quarterbacks showed flashes with the teams that drafted them, before moving on to back-up roles elsewhere. While Smith is slated to be Seattle’s starting quarterback in 2024, he is embracing Howell and isn’t concerned about the added competition.

“Sam is a really, really talented young player,” Smith said when asked about the arrival of Howell in Seattle. “He played a lot of football to be that young. Did a lot of great things and showed a lot of great things on tape.”

“For me, the whole starter/backup thing, I don’t ever wrap my mind around that. It’s about that group. The quarterback group has to be a collective unit. Whoever goes in the game has to have the support of the other guys.”

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