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Ravens safety: Refs 'trying to harp on' helmet rule

Outside of Lamar Jackson's performance in Thursday night's Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, the most notable takeaway from the Baltimore Ravens' 17-16 win over the Chicago Bears was that we should expect a bevy of penalties called with the NFL's new helmet rule.

The Ravens were flagged for three violations. One of those included safety Bennett Jackson, who seemed perplexed at the call on the field and contended afterwards that he didn't believe he led with his helmet, and instead hit the receiver with his shoulder. Bennett called his tackle "perfect," per ESPN's Jamison Hensley.

Jackson believes his penalty was an example of referees and the league emphasizing the new rule during preseason games.

"I feel like they're trying to harp on it a lot more in preseason, so they're going to throw flags even on times when it's not necessarily head to head, just to make people aware of it," Jackson said. "I spoke to the ref. He even said, 'Hey, it's preseason, we got to throw the flag.'"

The new rule is intended to make the game safer by taking the helmet out of hitting. A player can draw a 15-yard penalty for lowering his head to initiate contact with his helmet against an opponent. Players can potentially be fined or ejected depending on the severity of the hit.

The notion that refs will throw more flags -- especially in regards to the new helmet rule -- to get the attention of players is a common take. It's one that seems to have the Ravens' locker room shrugging off the questionable calls from Thursday night's tilt. Even with that optimism, new questions open up about how players -- specifically safeties -- will perform their jobs if they are penalized on seemingly every big hit.

"It's really about a reaction," Ravens linebacker Kamalei Correa, who was also flagged, said. "It's all up to the refs and what they call. At the end of the day, us as players, we're really just trying to go out and play as hard and as fast as we can."

Coach John Harbaugh declined to comment on the new rule.

"I'll wait to see the TV copies and see what they look like," Harbaugh said. "So I really don't know. If I knew, I would give you an opinion on it. I don't know enough about the rule to understand it right now."

The Ravens hope the penalties accrued during the preseason will lessen once the real games start.

"In the regular season, I don't think it's going to be thrown as much," Jackson said. "But who knows?"

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