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Gillmore embracing role as starting tight end

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Gillmore embracing role as starting tight end

Crockett Gillmore has answered the challenge this preseason. He has earned the right to be the Ravens’ starting tight end Week 1 in Denver. More importantly, Gillmore looks capable of being a pass-catching target for Joe Flacco, a quarterback who loves throwing to tight ends.

Gillmore made an eye-opening play Saturday night during a 31-13 loss to the Redskins. Running a seam route, he caught a pass at about the 15-yard line, but Gillmore wasn’t done. He broke one tackle after making the catch, barreled toward the goal line, and dove into the end zone from around the two-yard line, even though Redskins’ linebacker Keenan Robinson was draped around Gillmore’s legs.

The play showed Gillmore’s strength and athleticism, even though the 33-yard touchdown play was nullified due to a penalty on Marlon Brown. Gillmore is a load to bring down as at 6-foot-6, 270 pounds, and he has improved as a route runner.

“He’s a guy that I have had a lot of faith in all the way through, as a blocker and a pass receiver,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. “People want to label him a blocker; he’s a very good blocker, but he has a chance as a pass receiver too. And, it was nice to see that play.”

It’s not like other tight ends won’t play. The Ravens drafted two tight ends, Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle, knowing that the future of Dennis Pitta (PUP list) was in doubt due to his severe hip injury. Williams has also caught the ball well during preseason, but he didn’t play Saturday night (undisclosed injury). Gillmore is a much better blocker Williams, and Boyle is more blocker than pass-catcher at this stage.

That leaves Gillmore as clearly the No. 1 tight end right now, and that’s fine with Flacco. He was also impressed with the touchdown play that was called back.

“That just gives you a little bit of an insight as to what he’s capable of doing,” Flacco said.

Gillmore is quietly confident, and had a funny line about the trash talking during Saturday night’s game.

“He may have been talking, but I don’t pay any attention to that,” Gillmore said about one Redskins’ player. “It’s like a mosquito, they just keep flying around, and you just keep smacking them.’

Asked if he was ready to be the starting tight end Week 1, Gillmore said, “I felt ready from the beginning, from the moment I started training.”

Gillmore looks ready. And that’s a good sign for the Ravens.

MORE RAVENS: Ravens stock watch: Who's up, who's down after Redskins game?

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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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