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Five things to watch in Ravens' preseason opener

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Five things to watch in Ravens' preseason opener

Tonight, we get to see the Ravens in game action. They host the Saints at 7:30 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium in the preseason opener. (Coverage begins at 7 p.m. on CSN+).

Clifton’s five things to watch:

1. The receivers – Many receivers have looked good in practice, so the preseason could determine who makes the roster, and how the depth chart stacks up heading into Week 1. First-round pick Breshad Perriman (knee) is not expected to play after missing 10 straight practices. So receivers like Jeremy Butler, DeAndre Carter, and Darren Waller will get extra reps, trying to convince the coaching staff that they are too talented to cut. The preseason will also help the Ravens decide if they will keep six or seven receivers, and if Marlon Brown, Kamar Aiken, Perriman, or someone else should be the No. 2 receiver behind Steve Smith.

2. Young tight ends – With Dennis Pitta (PUP) unavailable, whoever the Ravens go with at tight end is going to be young. Crockett Gillmore is in his second year, while Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle are both rookies. Gillmore has the inside track to start Week 1, but Williams was a playmaker at Minnesota. If Williams is going to make a case to start, this game would be a good time to start.

3. Kick returners – Even if Steve Smith and Lardarius Webb return some punts during the regular season, they won’t be doing it in this game.  So for return candidates like Michael Campanaro and Carter, this is a chance to break one and become the frontrunner for the job.

4. Matt Schaub – He should see plenty of action at quarterback, with Joe Flacco only expected to play a snap or two. Schaub has thrown more than his share of interceptions during practice. If he looks good, he will reduce concern about the backup quarterback situation.

5. The pass rush – Losing outside linebacker Pernell McPhee and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata during the offseason has raised concern about the Ravens’ pass rush. Don’t expect to see Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs to see much action. So we’ll how much pressure the Ravens get on the Saints’ quarterbacks, and where the pass rush comes from. Keep an eye on rookie outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, a fourth-round pick who has potential as a pass rusher.

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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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