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Defense allowing too many big plays

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Defense allowing too many big plays

The numbers aren't pretty.

The Ravens 486 yards in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, 396 in a win vs. the New England Patriots and 357 to the winless Cleveland Browns.

"We aren't happy about that," Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. "We don't want to give up those yards. The bottom line is finding a way to win the game."

His team is 3-1. And it could be undefeated if the offense didn't disappear in the second half vs. the Eagles.

So is the glass half-empty or half-full?

The view from here is half-full. There's something to be said for winning despite the sub-par defensive statistics.

And this defense, which is without 2011 Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs for at least the first six games of the season, isn't whole yet.

Harbaugh is rotating linebackers, using Albert McClellan and Jameel McClain at various spots. Paul Kruger, who is used more in pass coverage, began the season with a bad back and has yet to reach top form.

After the run defense looked shaky in the opener vs. the Cincinnati Bengals, it held the Eagles' LeSean McCoy to 81 yards on 25 carries, New England's Stevan Ridley to 37 yards on 13 carries and Trent Richardson of the Browns to 47 on 14 carries.

The communication between the linebackers and secondary, however, remains an issue in pass coverage. Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden threw for 320 yards.

The pass rush has largely been absent from the starting linebackers. The Ravens have nine sacks, but backup linebacker Dannell Ellerbe leads with 2.5 and tackle Haloti Ngata has 2.0.

Defensive end Pernell McPhee is credited with just a half-sack. Rookie Courtney Upshaw, who has been starting since the Eagles game at rush linebacker, has just a half-sack, too.

Getting pressure on the opposing quarterbacks will go a long way in keeping down the overall yardage allowed as the Ravens have been gouged on big plays:

-- A 43-yard pass from Weeden that set up the Browns' only touchdown.

-- New England's first two field goals were possible after Wes Welker's 59-yard catch from Tom Brady and two completions or 22 and 19 yards. A 28-yard catch by Welker led to another touchdown.

-- Michael Vick threw a 23-yard touchdown to Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson had a 49-yard catch and Vick had completions of 24 and 19 yards on the game-winning drive.

-- A 27-yard catch by Andrew Hawkins sparked a drive by the Bengals to cut their deficit to 17-10.

"We are giving up too many yards right now on basically chunk plays. Its been that way all year." Harbaugh said. "Weve had three, four, five chunk plays every game that have accounted for probably between 100 or 200 yards, I would say. And thats the stuff we really keep working on to clean up. We dont want that to happen. It just puts too much pressure on everybody on our defense, especially."

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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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