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Kick returner remains a question mark for Ravens

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Kick returner remains a question mark for Ravens

When the Ravens line up for their first kickoff return of the regular season at Denver on Sept. 13, who, exactly, will be deep to return? 

That is one of the major unsolved issues of the preseason for the Ravens, and it's definitely possible that the Ravens kick returner in Week 1 isn't even on the roster right now.

More than 600 players will be cut between now and Saturday, and if some of them can field kicks, they might just get a call from Ozzie Newsome.

RELATED: Broncos T.J. Ward to miss game vs. Ravens

Asa Jackson had every opportunity to win the job, and he showed big-play potential with a 103-yard kickoff return against the Redskins and a 52-yard punt return against the Falcons. But he also showed the propensity to turn the ball over, with punt return fumbles in each of the last two games. Not much raises the ire of coach John Harbaugh more than failing to take care of the ball. Coupled with Jackson's uneven play as a cornerback, he can't be leaving Atlanta with a lot of job security.

If not Jackson, then who?

Backup running back Terrence Magee had  a 25-yard kickoff return against the Falcons, and wide receiver Tom Nelson had a 26-yard return. But Nelson didn't do enough to make the team as a receiver, so scratch him off the list. And DeAndre Carter, who had a couple of chances early in preseason, has been cut after fumbling away his chance. 

Talk about an underwhelming competition.

Michael Campanaro, who had one punt return for 10 yards this preseason, is listed on the Ravens depth chart as the No. 2 kickoff returner behind Jackson and the No. 1 punt returner.  But he has spent much of this preseason -- and his NFL career -- hurt. Can they rely on him?

At one point, Harbaugh described Steve Smith and Lardarius Webb as "aces in the hole" who could always be fallback options. But Webb hasn't been healthy enough to be on the field, and would they really risk having anything happen to Smith on special teams when he is such an invaluable part of the offense?

The Ravens and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg cannot be pleased that six weeks of camp and four preseason games brought so little clarity to the position.

Once the cuts start happening, Ozzie Newsome will be watching closely. He has frequently found success with others' castoffs, and he should be looking at kick returners very closely.

MORE RAVENS: 5 takeaways from Baltimore's preseason loss to Atlanta

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Baltimore Ravens' 2018 regular season matchups, dates and times

Baltimore Ravens' 2018 regular season matchups, dates and times

We've known the Ravens' 2018 preseason and regular season opponents for some time now, but the NFL finally released their full schedule with exact dates and times.

As they do every year, the Ravens will be seeing the Bengals, Steelers and Browns twice. 

For the ninth consecutive year, Week 16 and 17 will be divisional games with playoff implications.

They Ravens will also be playing in the Pro Football Hall of Fame preseason game against the Chicago Bears in Canton, Ohio, bringing an extra preseason game to their schedule.

In the regular season, the birds will be flocking south to take on the Panthers, Falcons and Titans. They haven't seen the Panthers or Falcons since 2014 - both ending in wins - and came up just short against the Titans in their 23-20 loss last season.

The Ravens will only have to travel to the west coast once when they take on the Los Angeles Chargers, who they last saw in 2015 and earned a 29-26 win.

Not including AFC North rivals, the last time the Ravens saw their remaining five home opponents they came away with wins. Hopefully history will repeat itself.

Prime-time games, which the Ravens have two of, will kick off at earlier times than in the past. Monday Night Football will now start at 8:15 p.m. while Thursday and Sunday Night Football will start at 8:20 p.m.

Ravens 2018 Regular-Season Schedule:

Week 1: Sunday, 9/9 vs. Bills, 1:00 p.m.

Week 2: Thursday, 9/13 @ Bengals, 8:20 p.m.

Week 3: Sunday, 9/23 vs. Broncos. 1:00 p.m.

Week 4: Sunday, 9/30 @ Steelers, 8:20 p.m.

Week 5: Sunday, 10/7 @ Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 6: Sunday 10/14 @ Titans, 4:25 p.m.

Week 7: Sunday, 10/21 vs. Saints, 4:05 p.m.

Week 8: Sunday 10/28 @ Panthers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 9: Sunday 11/4 vs. Steelers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 10:  BYE week

Week 11: Sunday 11/18 vs. Bengals, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12: Sunday 11/25 vs. Raiders, 1:00 p.m.

Week 13: Sunday 12/2 @ Falcons, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: Sunday 12/9 @ Chiefs, 1:00 p.m.

Week 15: Sunday 12/16 vs. Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: Saturday 12/22 or Sunday 12/23 @ Chargers, TBD

Week 17: Sunday 12/30 vs. Browns, 1:00 p.m.


PRESEASON 

Hall of Fame Game: Thurs., 8/2, vs. Chicago Bears (Canton, OH), 8:00pm (NBC).

Week 1: Thurs., 8/9, vs. Los Angeles Rams

Week 2: Mon. 8/20,  at Indianapolis Colts (Monday Night Football, ESPN).

Week 3: at Miami Dolphins*

Week 4: Thurs., 8/30 at Washington Redskins

* - Game date and time not yet determined

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As 2018 NFL Draft approaches, Ravens to host QB Lamar Jackson per report

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As 2018 NFL Draft approaches, Ravens to host QB Lamar Jackson per report

With 10 days until the 2018 NFL Draft, quarterback Lamar Jackson is set to visit the Ravens this week, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. 

The former Heisman Trophy winner is a projected first-round pick as he has proven to have success in the air and on the ground. 

While at Louisville, Jackson had 9,043 passing yards and 69 touchdowns. He also rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns. His NFL draft profile compares him to Michael Vick. 

RELATED: BEST QUOTES FROM RAVENS PRE-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE

The Ravens are in search of Joe Flacco's successor, but spending a first-round pick on a quarterback when there are other glaring needs is up in the air. However, assistant general manager Eric DeCosta isn't ruling out the possibility

"I feel like if there is a guy there that we think is really too good to pass up, we're going to take him," DeCosta told the team's website on the chance of drafting a quarterback in the first-round.

At their pre-draft press conference, GM Ozzie Newsome and DeCosta kept reiterating we could be surprised by who they pick at No. 16, if they do at all. 

While Jackson's numbers are impressive, he continues to be considered a late first-round pick as his build isn't up to typical NFL QB standards and scouts are concerned with his accuracy. What he does have in his favor is speed.

While fans are hoping for an offensive weapon, having Jackson learn under Flacco for a year (and maybe RGIII?) could rev up some excitement. 

RELATED: RGIII READY TO MOVE FORWARD AS NEW, GROWN PLAYER