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Kick returner remains a question mark for Ravens

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Kick returner remains a question mark for Ravens

When the Ravens line up for their first kickoff return of the regular season at Denver on Sept. 13, who, exactly, will be deep to return? 

That is one of the major unsolved issues of the preseason for the Ravens, and it's definitely possible that the Ravens kick returner in Week 1 isn't even on the roster right now.

More than 600 players will be cut between now and Saturday, and if some of them can field kicks, they might just get a call from Ozzie Newsome.

RELATED: Broncos T.J. Ward to miss game vs. Ravens

Asa Jackson had every opportunity to win the job, and he showed big-play potential with a 103-yard kickoff return against the Redskins and a 52-yard punt return against the Falcons. But he also showed the propensity to turn the ball over, with punt return fumbles in each of the last two games. Not much raises the ire of coach John Harbaugh more than failing to take care of the ball. Coupled with Jackson's uneven play as a cornerback, he can't be leaving Atlanta with a lot of job security.

If not Jackson, then who?

Backup running back Terrence Magee had  a 25-yard kickoff return against the Falcons, and wide receiver Tom Nelson had a 26-yard return. But Nelson didn't do enough to make the team as a receiver, so scratch him off the list. And DeAndre Carter, who had a couple of chances early in preseason, has been cut after fumbling away his chance. 

Talk about an underwhelming competition.

Michael Campanaro, who had one punt return for 10 yards this preseason, is listed on the Ravens depth chart as the No. 2 kickoff returner behind Jackson and the No. 1 punt returner.  But he has spent much of this preseason -- and his NFL career -- hurt. Can they rely on him?

At one point, Harbaugh described Steve Smith and Lardarius Webb as "aces in the hole" who could always be fallback options. But Webb hasn't been healthy enough to be on the field, and would they really risk having anything happen to Smith on special teams when he is such an invaluable part of the offense?

The Ravens and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg cannot be pleased that six weeks of camp and four preseason games brought so little clarity to the position.

Once the cuts start happening, Ozzie Newsome will be watching closely. He has frequently found success with others' castoffs, and he should be looking at kick returners very closely.

MORE RAVENS: 5 takeaways from Baltimore's preseason loss to Atlanta

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Ravens vs. Colts preseason: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

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Ravens vs. Colts preseason: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

After 10 days and two testy joint practices with the Colts, Ravens football is back.

The guys are in Indianapolis to take on the Colts in their third preseason game of the season. You can expect to see Lamar Jackson and RGIII getting more reps in, but it's unclear how much of Andrew Luck we'll see after he missed the entire 2017 season with a shoulder injury.

While the joint practices brought a few brawls, head coach John Harbaugh has been nothing but impressed with how his team has been handling training camp and the preseason thus far.

"I think about as good as [I’ve] ever seen,” Harbaugh said via the Ravens' website. “I’d have to say our best camp in terms of guys focused on improving every day and becoming one percent better at what they do from one day to the next and keep building on that. That’s what I’m proud of.”

Ahead of their matchup, here's everything you need to know to watch.

Ravens vs. Colts Preseason Game:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts 

What: Preseason Week 3

When: Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, 8:00 p.m. ET

Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana 

TV Channel: ESPN

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090 and 98Rock, ESPN Radio

Weather: 78 degrees, scattered thunderstorms

Preseason Schedule:

Hall of Fame Game: Thurs., 8/2 vs. Chicago Bears. 8:00 p.m. (W: 17-16) 

Week 1: Thurs., 8/9, vs. Los Angeles Rams, 7:30 p.m. (W: 33-7)

Week 2: Mon., 8/20, at Indianapolis Colts (Monday Night Football, ESPN), 8:00 p.m. 

Week 3: Sat., 8/25 at Miami Dolphins, 7:00 p.m.

Week 4: Thurs., 8/30 vs. Washington Redskins, 7:30 p.m.

Ravens 2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Week 1: Sun., 9/9 vs. Bills, 1:00 p.m.

Week 2: Thur., 9/13 @ Bengals, 8:20 p.m.

Week 3: Sun., 9/23 vs. Broncos. 1:00 p.m.

Week 4: Sun., 9/30 @ Steelers, 8:20 p.m.

Week 5: Sun., 10/7 @ Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 6: Sun., 10/14 @ Titans, 4:25 p.m.

Week 7: Sun., 10/21 vs. Saints, 4:05 p.m.

Week 8: Sun., 10/28 @ Panthers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 9: Sun., 11/4 vs. Steelers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 10:  BYE week

Week 11: Sun., 11/18 vs. Bengals, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12: Sun., 11/25 vs. Raiders, 1:00 p.m.

Week 13: Sun., 12/2 @ Falcons, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: Sun., 12/9 @ Chiefs, 1:00 p.m.

Week 15: Sun., 12/16 vs. Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: Sat., 12/22 or Sunday 12/23 @ Chargers, TBD

Week 17: Sun., 12/30 vs. Browns, 1:00 p.m.

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A Norwegian soccer player turned kicker, Kaare Vedvik fighting for chance on Ravens roster

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A Norwegian soccer player turned kicker, Kaare Vedvik fighting for chance on Ravens roster

Twenty-four-year-old Kaare Vedvik didn't watch his first football game until seven years ago, and now he's fighting for a spot on the Ravens' special teams roster.

Raised in Norway, Vedvik got his first glance at the game when the Super Bowl was being broadcast on Norwegian television for the first time. 

"It seemed like a really, really interesting sport," Vedvik said via The Baltimore Sun. "It was a sport I was never able to try growing up. I loved any sport that was fun, and football seemed really, really fun."

Fun enough to get the competitive soccer player to be an exchange student in the United States during his junior year of high school to test out the game of football. Vedvik returned to Norway for his senior year but impressed college recruiters enough at a Kohl's Kicking Camp in Texas that he was eventually recruited to play at Marshall University in West Virginia.

Staying in Norway would have meant giving up on sports entirely as school becomes more difficult and sports are no longer offered. Vedvik wasn't ready for that.

While at Marshall, Vedvik played in 38 games in four years as both a punter and kicker. He punted 59 times for 2,597 yards — averaging 44 yards — with 26 of them inside the 20-yard line. Vedvik once punted a 92-yarder, making it the seventh-longest punt in FBS history and the longest in 45 years. He ranked in the Top 10 for fewest punt return yards and averaged 63.6 yards-per-kickoff. 

After a private workout with Ravens special teams coordinator/associate head coach Jerry Rosburg, Vedvik became one of 14 Ravens undrafted free agents and has impressed thus far hitting 70 and 67-yard field goals in training camp practices. And in Thursday's preseason game vs. the Rams, Vedvik hit a 56-yard field goal.

"Learning how to kick field goals, the biggest thing for me was to stop swiping across and trying to kick a straighter ball," Vedcik said. "That’s the biggest difference: In soccer, you’re trying to curve balls around a defender."

While Vedvik's chances of dethroning the most accurate kicker in NFL history in Justin Tucker and 12-year veteran punter Sam Koch are slim, he could very well make an impact elsewhere. 

“The guys who are able to do that, they’re just good athletes in general, and Kaare is a good athlete,” Tucker said of the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Norwegian. “He hasn’t played a lot of football. He has plenty of ability.”

“When he came in, he’s got such a strong leg," Koch added. "You’ve got to have a strong leg in order to get looked at. He’s got a lot of talent. It’s one of those things — bringing him in, honing his skills and seeing what he can do from here.”

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