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His team in need, Boldin is stepping up for Ravens

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His team in need, Boldin is stepping up for Ravens

There were whispers even before the season began that the 2012 Ravens, perhaps for the first time in its history, would be defined by their offense more than by their defense.

Now, with Terrell Suggs, Lardarius Webb and Ray Lewis potentially all standing side-by-side on the sideline in street clothes for the foreseeable future, you can shout it from the highest row of the stadium: This suddenly battered and bruised team will go as far as its offense carries it.

Observers say this is Joe Flacco's offense, or this is Ray Rice's offense. Both of which, to a large degree, are true. But one player who is emerging as a steadying, veteran presence on offense during this potential sea change of a season is receiver Anquan Boldin.

Boldin, who has more NFL experience than Flacco and Rice combined, is on pace for his best season as a Raven. NFL skill positions are a young man's domain, but Boldin, who turned 32 last week, is showing he still belongs.

The 10-year veteran led the Ravens with five catches for 98 yards in their 31-29 win over Dallas -- the third straight game he led the team in receiving -- including a 31-yard grab that set up the Ravens' last touchdown. Ravens receivers have had a lot of trouble this year finding separation against tight press coverage. But on that play, Boldin fought off contact at the line of scrimmage from cornerback Brandon Carr, who stumbled, leaving Boldin wide open down the right sideline.

"There was a lot of physical play outside there on the edge," coach John Harbaugh said afterward. "A lot was going on out there, and I thought our guys did a good job of playing right through it, especially Anquan. He did a great job."

Boldin also led the Ravens with four catches for 82 yards in the 9-6 slog over the Chiefs two weeks ago, and took over the game against Cleveland, with eight catches for 125 yards in the second half alone.

Through six games, Boldin leads the Ravens with 28 catches for 429 yards. That puts him on pace for 74 catches for 1,144 yards, which would be his highest totals in three seasons as a Raven. Last season, he caught 57 passes for a team-high 887 yards.

" "At certain points I'm asked to spark the team and make plays," Boldin told BaltimoreRavens.com after the Cleveland game. "And I'm willing to accept that role."

 

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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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