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1st and 10: Ten predictions for Ravens-Browns


1st and 10: Ten predictions for Ravens-Browns

1. The Ravens will score a first-quarter touchdown.

One of the more alarming things about this season has been the Ravens' inability to find the end zone early in games. Sustained drives have stalled, and other early possessions have gone nowhere. They have not scored a first-quarter touchdown since Week 2 at Philadelphia, and since then they have been outscored 29-9 in the first quarter. This week, the Ravens will generate an early touchdown.

2. Ray Rice will have 20 carries.

Rice's workload remains topic No. 1 in Baltimore after he had just nine carries in the loss at Houston. Rice has had two of his four biggest rushing games of his career in Cleveland, and has had at least 20 carries in all four career games there. He gets the ball early and often.

3. Bernard Pierce will have at least six touches.

The Ravens want to get both Rice and backup running back Bernard Pierce involved, and establishing the running game with those two should help the passing game. Pierce has a total of 25 touches this season (23 rushes, two receptions), or about 3.5 per game. He set career highs in the first meeting with Cleveland, with six carries for 48 yards.

4. Anquan Boldin will have at least four catches.

The veteran Ravens receiver carried the Ravens' passing game in the first meeting between these teams. He had eight catches for 125 yards in the second half alone and finished 9-131, both season highs. The Browns have cornerback Joe Haden, who missed the first meeting with a suspension, but Boldin will still find his openings.

5. Joe Flacco will throw fewer than 30 passes.

Flacco threw a season-high 46 passes, completing 28, in the win over Cleveland six weeks ago. But in Cleveland, the Ravens have generally relied on the ground game, and want to recommit to the run this week. In four career starts at Cleveland, Flacco has averaged 22 passes, and has never thrown more than 29.

6. Trent Richardson will rush for 100 yards.

The Ravens have shown a glaring weakness in run defense, and Haloti Ngata (questionable, shoulder, knee) is banged up in the middle of that defense. Richardson was held to 47 yards on 14 carries by the Ravens in September, but he's coming off a career-best 122-yard effort in the Browns' win over San Diego. Expect him to run it until the Ravens show they can stop him. Ngata's presence -- or absence -- could be huge. 

7. Terrell Suggs will have a sack.

Led by five-time Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas, the Browns' offensive line is decent and has yielded 13 sacks this season.  The Ravens got to Brandon Weeden once in the first meeting, with Paul Kruger recording a sack. Suggs might not yet be 100 percent, but he is a game-changer off the edge and will make things happen once again. In 18 career games against the Browns, Suggs has 13 sacks.

8. Josh Gordon will have a catch of at least 25 yards.

The Browns rookie receiver is really coming into his own, with 10 catches and four touchdowns in the Browns' past four games. He's a big-play threat who leads the league with 22.3 yards per catch, and he will test Ravens corners Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith, who both have had trouble defending double moves and deep routes.

9. The Ravens will win time of possession.

Perhaps nothing has hurt the Ravens more lately than their inability to get the defense off the field. The offense has stalled, the defense has yielded sustained drives, and the result has been whopping deficiencies in time of possession. They managed to beat Dallas despite having the ball for 19:57, compared to Dallas' 40:03, and then had the ball for 21:44 at Houston. The Ravens have held the ball more than 30 minutes just once this season -- in the first meeting with Cleveland. By establishing Ray Rice and their running game, they will do that again.

10. Ravens 23, Browns 20

The Ravens put a few streaks on the line on Sunday: John Harbaugh has never lost to the Browns, winning nine straight, and the Ravens have won 14 straight games after a loss, the longest such streak in the league. They are also 4-0 under John Harbaugh in their first game after the bye. They will be tested by an improved Browns team, and need to play better on the road than they have lately. But Suggs makes an impact on defense, Rice does the same on offense and the Ravens escape with a win.

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Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst


Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst

The Ravens have their entire 2018 draft class locked up.

The team agreed to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Hurst's rookie contract - like all first-round picks - is a four-year deal with a team option of a fifth year. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the 25th overall pick is due $11.1 million. 

The 24-year old, who was a walk on at South Carolina at 21-years old after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012, finished his three-year career with 100 receptions, 1,281 yards and three touchdowns.

Standing at 6-foot-3, Hurst will be a nice addition to the TE corps with Nick Boyle and third-round draft pick Mark Andrews. 

Fellow first-round pick Lamar Jackson signed his rookie contract on June 5th.

Training camp kicks off for the Ravens July 19th. 


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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

Since drafting Lamar Jackson, the Ravens have made it clear that Joe Flacco is their starter. That doesn't mean they're not experimenting with having them both on the field at the same time, however. 

During this week's minicamp, the team has been lining Jackson up at multiple positions. 

"Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us," coach John Harbaugh said of Jackson during Tuesday's minicamp, via ESPN.com.

"If you put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That's what we're trying to figure out."

While at Louisville, Jackson rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns in three seasons. That's more rushing yards than No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley. That unique skill set could be the creative options the Ravens are looking for. 

While at the NFL Combine, however, Jackson refused to workout at any other position than QB. 

"I have a lot of fun seeing what they come up with and what they're going to come up with next," Jackson said. "We'll see where it goes. You have to use your good players."

The Ravens are already viewing Jackson as one of those 'good players.' 

"Once he gets out of the pocket, it's like watching a young Michael Vick," LB C.J. Mosley said after minicamp practice. "It's amazing to watch. When you're defending him, you just have to act like you're tagging off -- you don't want to be on the highlight reel."

Harbaugh has alluded to the fact that the rookie will be active on game days, just exactly how they get the most out of him is what's in play.

"There's a lot of considerations that go into that," Harbaugh said of using two QBs at the once. "Everybody has an opinion. I've read a few. You want to find a way to get the most out of all your guys."

While Flacco isn't the fasted QB in the league, he has shown glimpses of running ability in the past. Figuring out how to utilize Flacco when Jackson is under center is where things will get interesting.

Interesting - as long as it works - is what Ravens fans have been searching for over the last several seasons. 

"Joe has to be able to do other things if [Jackson is] throwing the ball," Harbaugh said. "It gets the creative juices flowing for our offensive coaches, and they've worked hard on that."