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Battle shaping up for WRs

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Battle shaping up for WRs

The Ravens' top three receivers appear all set. Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith return as starters, and Jacoby Jones has established himself as the No. 3 receiver this team was lacking last season.

After that? It figures to be a battle royale for the final spots, with the Ravens likely to keep five, perhaps six receivers on the final 53-man roster.

There could be some difficult decisions when it comes cutting time.

Baltimore native LaQuan Williams has had a strong camp and appears likely to make the team. Tandon Doss, who played sparingly last season and has been slowed by a hamstring injury this preseason, is listed ahead of Williams on the depth chart (for what that's worth.)Then there are the rookies, undrafted Deonte Thompson, whose raw speed has been on display frequently, and sixth-round pick Tommy Streeter, the 6-foot-5 project out of Miami. Then there's Logan Payne, who at least has limited NFL experience, and rookie Devin Goda, and...you get the idea.

The Ravens' 90-man roster includes a dozen receivers, and it's likely that no more than half will make the final roster.

For those on the bubble, special teams play could be their ticket to the final roster.When asked on Sunday about keeping six receivers, coach John Harbaugh said one determining factor would be special teams play.

"Those guys are going to play important roles on special teams," he said.

Indeed, special teams play probably helped Williams stick with the Ravens last season. He showed some flashes as a return man in preseason, but his main contribution during the season was in coverage. He finished the season with four special teams tackles and forced a fumble on a punt return in the AFC Championship Game at New England.

Special teams drills such as punt coverage aren't the most flashy or exciting. But for these receivers fighting for a spot in the Ravens locker room come Week 1, they just might be the most important.

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Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

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USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

Football is back in session for the Ravens.

Their rookies are set to report to the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills, Md Wednesday. Veterans report next Wednesday, the 18th.

The team is reporting to training camp a bit earlier than most NFL teams. Due to Ray Lewis being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Aug. 4 in Canton, Oh, the Ravens will face the Chicago Bears in the annual Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2. Teams participating are eligible to begin training camp earlier.

This rookie class is already generating national attention. While the Ravens stand by Joe Flacco as their QB1, first-round pick Lamar Jackson could cause a shakeup at some point during the season. And when it comes to much-needed offensive help, tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews could begin to provide relief. 

Third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr. begins his journey with the Ravens in a more sentimental fashion. His father, Orlando "Zeus" Brown, also played tackle for the Ravens from 1996-98 and then again from 2003-05. Brown passed away in 2011. 

Stay with NBC Sports Washington throughout the next several weeks as we keep a close eye on the Ravens' preseason. 

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

There's only six months until the NFL playoffs and we've got no time to waste.

OK, maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves but online betting site, Oddshark, released their early 2018 NFL playoff odds and the Ravens are in a similar situation as previous years.

The Ravens are sitting at +135 — tied for 13th with the San Francisco 49ers — for the best odds to play January football. This would place them in the seventh seed among AFC teams and just outside contention.

The Patriots (-1500), Steelers (-550), Chargers (-145), Jaguars (-140), Texans (-135), and Chiefs (+120) are seeded above them respectively. 

During the 2017 season, the Ravens were constantly in the hunt for the fifth or sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture. Several weeks ahead of training camp, Vegas is predicting that to be the case in 2018.

Playoff odds in July mean nothing, but considering their offseason changes, the Ravens' 2018 season should bring positive change.

They added weapons for Joe Flacco in free agents Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown, and drafted tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews.

Then there was the late first-round draft pick of QB Lamar Jackson. Flacco remains the starter for now, but it will be interesting to see if that changes midway through the season or if they get them both on the field at the same time.

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