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Leach gets lost in shuffle

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Leach gets lost in shuffle

Lost in the shuffle in the underused running game is Vonta Leach.

Because of the no-huddle offense, the All-Pro fullback has been almost invisible through seven games which is astounding when considering his value.

Leach is an excellent blocker, and when Ray Rice usually gets chunks of yardage he's usually out front creating the space.

Rice has 106 carries, just nine fewer than last season at this point, but he goes long stretches without being involved in the offense.

The same goes for Leach.

After an ugly 9-6 win at the Kansas City Chiefs, Rice lamented it was good to see the team remembered it could run the ball on the final drive to secure the victory. And then he lobbied on behalf of Leach, who has just three carries for 15 yards and 10 catches for 81 for the season.

This week, coach John Harbaugh acknowledged that Leach has to get more involved as he re-tools his inconsistent offense going into the bye week.

“We want to use him more than that. Absolutely. He is handling it like a pro. He and I had a talk on the plane about it," Harbaugh said about the aftermath of the 43-13 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday. "He was great, but he wants to play, and he knows he can help us.

"He wants to be out there. You can’t really guarantee that you’re going to do this in one game and that in another game, but on average, Vonta Leach has got to play more than that. There are going to be some games where maybe he doesn’t play as much."

Leach had three receptions in the opening 44-13 win vs. the Cincinnati Bengals. He had just one carry in a 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, but it was for a five-yard touchdown to open the Ravens' scoring.

After RIce had gained 27 yards on his first three carries vs. Houston, Leach had his first -- and only -- carry for six yards late in the first quarter with Baltimore leading 3-0. But quarterback Joe Flacco was sacked on the next two plays which led to a safety. 

Five minutes later, the Ravens were behind 16-3 and panic set in and a run game that the Texans had yet to prove they could solve was totally abandoned.

"I’m not defending what we decided to do in that game or what we didn’t decide to do," Harbaugh said. "It didn’t work. We tried to get back in the game, and it didn’t work. But yes, Vonta is a big part of what we’re doing.”

 

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Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

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USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

Football is back in session for the Ravens.

Their rookies are set to report to the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills, Md Wednesday. Veterans report next Wednesday, the 18th.

The team is reporting to training camp a bit earlier than most NFL teams. Due to Ray Lewis being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Aug. 4 in Canton, Oh, the Ravens will face the Chicago Bears in the annual Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2. Teams participating are eligible to begin training camp earlier.

This rookie class is already generating national attention. While the Ravens stand by Joe Flacco as their QB1, first-round pick Lamar Jackson could cause a shakeup at some point during the season. And when it comes to much-needed offensive help, tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews could begin to provide relief. 

Third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr. begins his journey with the Ravens in a more sentimental fashion. His father, Orlando "Zeus" Brown, also played tackle for the Ravens from 1996-98 and then again from 2003-05. Brown passed away in 2011. 

Stay with NBC Sports Washington throughout the next several weeks as we keep a close eye on the Ravens' preseason. 

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

There's only six months until the NFL playoffs and we've got no time to waste.

OK, maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves but online betting site, Oddshark, released their early 2018 NFL playoff odds and the Ravens are in a similar situation as previous years.

The Ravens are sitting at +135 — tied for 13th with the San Francisco 49ers — for the best odds to play January football. This would place them in the seventh seed among AFC teams and just outside contention.

The Patriots (-1500), Steelers (-550), Chargers (-145), Jaguars (-140), Texans (-135), and Chiefs (+120) are seeded above them respectively. 

During the 2017 season, the Ravens were constantly in the hunt for the fifth or sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture. Several weeks ahead of training camp, Vegas is predicting that to be the case in 2018.

Playoff odds in July mean nothing, but considering their offseason changes, the Ravens' 2018 season should bring positive change.

They added weapons for Joe Flacco in free agents Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown, and drafted tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews.

Then there was the late first-round draft pick of QB Lamar Jackson. Flacco remains the starter for now, but it will be interesting to see if that changes midway through the season or if they get them both on the field at the same time.

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