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Predictions on some second-half changes for Ravens

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Predictions on some second-half changes for Ravens

There's no question that some things will be different when the Ravens return next week. The coaches are working on ways to help on both sides of the ball, and there's going to be changes somewhere. 

Here's a few predictions for what might look a little different:

1. Ray Rice will get the ball a lot more. This issue's been discussed ad nauseum so far, but even if the Ravens want to play with that no-huddle offense, they've got to get the ball into his hands. He's one of the top backs in the NFL and what makes him so dangerous is that he can run and catch. Not every good back can do that. He can lift the offense all by himself.

2. Bernard Pierce should get more action. He can fill the role that Ricky Williams did, giving Rice a break, and giving the Ravens a good powerful runner that defenses won't love to see.

3. Vonta Leach should get more action. He's a brutal blocker at fullback. Add these first three together, and, to me, it's easy to see why the Ravens might run more in the second half. 

4. The defense is going to improve for a few reasons. First, Terrell Suggs is back, and that changes a lot of things. Second, the younger players are working at learning the game and learning their roles. That stuff just takes time. They aren't going to make major moves, so the Ravens are going to have to see what they can do with who they've got.

5. The cornerbacks will do better. Jimmy Smith played stronger in the second half of last year, and Cary Williams will do the same this season. He's coming back off of some health problems in the off-season and is showing signs of finding his way again. Plus, with Suggs back and a better pass rush in place, that will help everything. 

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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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