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Defense looking for improvement after bye

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Defense looking for improvement after bye

The defense is looking to do better things when they come back after the break this Sunday in Cleveland. It seems clear that everyone realizes that certain players are gone for awhile, and it's time to move on.

There's no question that the unit which once was the team's strong point now has slipped a lot. The combination of injuries -- to players like Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb plus Terrell Suggs -- and needing younger players to step up has really caused the Ravens trouble in the first seven weeks. 

"We have the guys to step up, and we have the guys to fill [the voids]," said linebacker Paul Kruger when talknig with the media last week. "We all need to come together as a collective group and change some of the things that we are doing to come along here."

Kruger said one of the reasons they need to connect as a group is to fill in the holes left by the injury to Lewis, something that's not a surprise. 

"Ray's the leader of our team," Kruger said. "He's been a guy who's created a lot around here. It's the kind of team that we are, and I think Ray's a huge part of that. Of course, we are missing him, and of course, it's a detriment to our team."

The return of Suggs is going to help. He had a strong performance in the loss to Houston before the break, possibly the best player on defense that day. Suggs' return will help not only the pass rush but the team's pass coverage, and the question really is how much it will all come together. 

If Suggs can come close to the form he showed as NFL Defensive Player of the Year last season, it would take pressure off the defense in other ways. But only time will tell. Still, the return of Suggs can help make up for the big losses they've suffered so far. 

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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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