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Jackson ready for his chance


Jackson ready for his chance

The beginning of his NFL career hasn't exactly gone as Asa Jackson would have liked.

Drafted in the fifth round by the Ravens this past spring out of Cal Poly as a cornerback and return specialist, Jackson has yet to see the field in a regular-season game. Buried on the depth chart, he has been declared a game-day inactive in all six games thus far.

That could change, though, after the season-ending knee injury to cornerback Lardarius Webb.

With Webb down, Jimmy Smith will slide into a starting role opposite Cary Williams. The first nickel back now is expected to be Corey Graham, with Chykie Brown and Jackson both sliding up the depth chart as well.

"Obviously, I don't know anything about what my role is going to be," Jackson said on Wednesday. "This is why they put me in the position that I've been in this whole time. In case something like this happens, then it's my turn to step up. This week I'm going to show (the coaches), give 'em some confidence in me so hopefully on Sunday I'll be able to do something good in the game."

Jackson showed glimpses of his potential in the preseason, including some heavy hits and a highlight-reel 85-yard punt return touchdown against the Lions, though it was called back by a penalty.

But his NFL career to date has been "frustrating;" each game so far, he's been one of the seven players on the 53-man roster dressed in sweats, rendered inactive for the game.

"Shoot, up to this point, or up to the point I'm at, being a rookie coming in," he said, "everyone was 'the man' where they were coming from."

Indeed, Jackson set school records for interception return touchdowns (3), punt return average for a career (14.7) and was a four-time, first-team all-conference player at Cal-Poly.

"Going from like me being a big fish in a little pond, or being that dude at Cal-Poly, to coming here and just being a scout player, obviously that's frustrating," Jackson said. "But at the same time, knowing how long the NFL season is, and just knowing how the NFL works, you always gotta be ready."

Jackson said other friends in the NFL, such as former Redskins cornerback Brandyn Thompson and Rams receiver Austin Pettis, helped him "make sure that I have my head on straight and I wasn't letting that frustration get in the way of me doing my job Monday through Saturday."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said that with the injuries to Webb and linebacker Ray Lewis, it is indeed next man up.

"It’s an opportunity," Harbaugh said at his Wednesday news conference. "You know the old saying: ‘When one door closes, another door opens,’ right? We’ve all heard that since we were kids, and that’s true. There are going to be opportunities for guys to [step up]."

If Jackson is called upon to be one of those guys, he says he's ready.

"Football is football," he said. "Obviously it's a little faster, some guys are a little bigger, but it's the same game I've been playing since I was 9 years old out in the rec fields in Sacramento."

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Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst


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."