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Broncos insist things don't lighten up now

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Broncos insist things don't lighten up now

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) The Denver Broncos made it through their treacherous front-loaded schedule undeterred if not unscathed.

Of Denver's 10 remaining games, just one is against a winning team, and that's the reeling Baltimore Ravens, who don't look so imposing with Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb on injured reserve.

Still, the Broncos (3-3) bristle at the notion that things lighten up for them now that Houston, Atlanta and New England are in their rearview mirror.

``Oh, it's still tough,'' safety David Bruton said. ``We've got the Saints this week. We've still got another playoff team next week with the Bengals. I mean, it doesn't seem to get any easier. We still play top competition each week.''

The Saints have won two straight after losing their first four games by a combined 20 points. Assistant head coach Joe Vitt returns from his suspension this week and will lead the Saints in Sean Payton's absence the rest of the season.

``Kind of like Coach (John) Fox said, you don't have to worry too much about their record when you look at the tape,'' tight end Jacob Tamme said. ``Very talented, really good football team.''

One Broncos player who's especially jazzed about the Saints game is cornerback Tracy Porter, but he insists it's because he missed last week's game with an illness and not because he played his first four seasons in New Orleans.

``It doesn't mean that much more, but it is going to be a weird feeling playing against my former team,'' said Porter, who returned to practice Monday.

Porter is still revered in New Orleans for his 74-yard interception return for a touchdown that sealed the Saints' Super Bowl win over the Indianapolis Colts three seasons ago.

After denying Peyton Manning his second title, Porter is now trying to help the star quarterback win another title and relishes the thought of a pick-six against his former Saints teammate, Drew Brees.

``It's kind of the same thing. I mean, both guys are first-ballot Hall of Famers. Both guys have a high-powered offense and we've just got to do our best to minimize the big plays and make plays when the ball's in the air,'' Porter said.

The Broncos had a half dozen takeaways in their last game, and half of those were by Chris Harris and Tony Carter in relief of Porter, who stayed behind in Denver and watched the Broncos score five unanswered second-half touchdowns in their 35-24 win against the Chargers.

``Oh man, that's exactly what those guys are supposed to do,'' Porter said. ``I mean, they come in, they step up, they take up my slack. I was jumping up off the couch when those guys intercepted the ball. I wanted to be a part of it, but those guys are my teammates so I'm not mad that they did it and I didn't.''

The Broncos returned from their bye Monday to discover the NFL was investigating whether the Chargers used a banned sticky substance during their game last week.

``I'm sure the league has their ways of dealing with it and they'll let us know the outcome,'' Fox said.

Chargers coach Norv Turner said Monday that nobody from the Chargers used Stickum, which was banned by the league in 1981, in the loss to the Broncos on Oct. 15 or in any other game. He said the league is looking into a towel that the team uses to dry the ball, the gloves worn by players and their arms.

Either way, ``we still beat them, so it doesn't matter,'' said Bruton, who said the Broncos players weren't aware of anything being amiss during the game.

``I didn't even hear about it until it was just brought to my attention like five minutes ago,'' Bruton said.

The Broncos were careful not to make any comments on the Chargers' sticky situation that could be used as bulletin board fodder for their rematch Nov. 18 in Denver.

``I'm not worried about what the Chargers do - especially this week,'' linebacker Keith Brooking said. ``We have a great opponent coming to town in the New Orleans Saints, so that's what we're focusing on.''

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Notes: Porter was cleared only for non-contact work Monday and said he hopes to be back without restrictions Wednesday. ... LB D.J. Williams is hanging around the team during his 3-game suspension for an alcohol-related driving conviction, unlike during his 6-game ban for performance-enhancing substances to start the season, when he wasn't allowed at team headquarters. He seems to have been welcomed back. ``He's a great teammate,'' DE Elvis Dumervil said. ``Sometimes people make mistakes, but he's definitely a great guy to have in the locker room.''

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter:http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst

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USA TODAY Sports

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."

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