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Thomas keeps rushers at arm's length

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Thomas keeps rushers at arm's length

With a left tackle such as Joe Thomas, it's no wonder Brandon Weeden has time to go through his progressions and pick apart secondaries.

Thomas' primary job is to keep the Cleveland Browns' rookie quarterback from getting his uniform dirty. He's 6-foot-6, in his sixth season and already being talked about as possibly the NFL's best at his position.

“He gets voted to the Pro Bowl every year, so that’s pretty much an indication of what the players, coaches and everybody thinks of him," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He’s a premier left tackle. He’s one of the best. … I don’t know that there’s a better tackle in football."

The only players to be named to the Pro Bowl in each of their first five seasons are in the Hall of Fame: N.Y. Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor and late Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas.

"To be able to be mentioned with those two guys is pretty spectacular and it’s really humbling," Thomas said. "When I came into the NFL, I said I wanted to go to the Hall of Fame. That was my long-term goal. I had a lot of short-term goals along the way, and one of them was making the Pro Bowl.

"I’ve been blessed and been lucky enough to make the Pro Bowl and be able to start there in my first five seasons. I am just trying to do everything I can to help my team win and try to get back to the Pro Bowl and hopefully get this team into the playoffs, because it would be nice to taste that for once.”

Part of what makes Thomas so difficult is his length. The Ravens only got one sack of Weeden during their first meeting with the Browns on Sept. 27 while their quarterback, Joe Flacco, was dropped four times.

The Ravens still won 23-16, but they will travel to Cleveland on Sunday at less than 100% on defense. Their front seven has had difficulty getting push at the line of scrimmage to get pressure on quarterbacks even when everyone was healthy. Now starting defensive tackle Haloti Ngata has been limited by a shoulder injury and defensive end Pernell McPhee hasn't practiced all week because of a thigh injury.

"It's a big advantage to be a tall tackle in this league with long arms. That’s what NFL scouts are always looking for," Thomas said. "Being able to get your hands on a guy and being able to use a little bit of a length and keep that separation between you and the defensive line is important, because what they want to do is get in close to you, and they can use all their moves and try to get around you.

"But, if you are keeping that space between you and them, it really limits their ability to get into your body and to use their pass-rush moves and get their hands on you and try to beat you to the quarterback.”

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

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USA TODAY Sports

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

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Heisman Trophy winner turned backup, Robert Griffin III fully embracing new role with Ravens

Heisman Trophy winner turned backup, Robert Griffin III fully embracing new role with Ravens

Robert Griffin III went from Heisman Trophy winner, to second-overall pick, to Offensive Rookie of the Year, to unemployed, to backup quarterback all in the matter of six years.

That's a rollercoaster of a career for a 28-year old, but RGIII is fully embracing the opportunity the Ravens have presented him with.

“I feel like I knew coming into this situation that this is Joe’s [Flacco] team," Griffin said at a press conference Wednesday.

"I understood that when I came in to work out; I understood that when I signed. I’m excited about the opportunity to learn from him. Whatever capacity the coaches ask me to help, that’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to compete, and I’m here to get better every single day – work hard. I think they saw that from me in the workout and in our general conversations together. I think they realize I’m ready for the opportunity and I’m ready for this role – whatever that role may be.”

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

Finding a backup quarterback that you can put some faith in during a time of desperation in today's league is a hard find, with the exception of the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles. 

While Griffin hasn't played since January of 2017, he offers legitimate experience that isn't being offered by typical backups. 

 "I feel like I’ve been able to get a better grasp of how to play the game in the NFL, what coaches are looking for. I think that’s a benefit, whereas in 2012 when I came in, it was more so learning everything on the fly and just going out and playing. Now I feel like I have to ability to go out and play and also know what I’m doing, be able to protect myself better, get the ball to the guys that need to get the ball and help a team win – in whatever way that is.”

The Ravens signed RGIII on a one-year contract worth $1 million - we're assuming- with hopes he'll never see the field during the regular season. Griffin made it clear he understands that role, but is looking forward to learning how to lead a team under a ten-year veteran. 

RELATED: RAVENS 2018 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

“Most of my interactions with Joe have been at midfield. I really do look forward to getting in the quarterback room with him. It’s a great opportunity for me. I still feel like I’m a young player. I’m 28, but I feel like I’m 25. He’s been through a lot of things in his career, been to the pinnacle and won a Super Bowl – Super Bowl MVP. I think that’s a great opportunity for me to learn and learn from him, and to just see the way that he attacks the game of football, the way he attacks the meeting room, practice, interacting with teammates – all those types of things – the way he leads." 

The RGIII saga in Baltimore is an open book right now, one that could come with an interesting ending.