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Ravens' defense improving since break


Ravens' defense improving since break

With all of the changes the Ravens went through in the off-season, some wondered if the first half of 2012 would just be a time for everyone and everything to try and come together.

The defense was up and down during that time and got hit even harder by injuries to players like Ray Lewis, Lardarius Webb and others, like Jimmy Smith. They were having trouble stopping both the run and pass and not getting a great pass rush. 

But things have been slowly changing since the break. The pass rush is getting better. The defense against the run and pass, while still not where they'd like it to be, has certainly improved, and the Ravens have won three straight, including two on the road. They'll have another test this weekend when they go to San Diego to see the Chargers.

There's been a lot of improvement on the defense. The return of Terrell Suggs certainly has helped. Corey Graham has done well at cornerback. Paul Kruger's coming on and becoming a pass rushing threat. 

The defense likes what they've seen, but Suggs said they're just working at improving on a regular basis. 

"Well, we have to see at the end of the 16 [-game schedule] where we fare," Suggs said when talking to the media on Wednesday. "We are just going to keep trying to play very good football all around, good defense, and keep trying to compile wins. We’re going to continue to try to get better each week. We just have to wait and see where we end up at.”

The work against the Steelers last week might have been the best effort this season. Sure, Pittsburgh was using a back-up quarterback -- battling a few broken ribs -- but Byron Leftwich is an NFL guy. 

Philip Rivers will provide another test this week. The defense just need to work on continually improving. If they can do that, it will pay off down the line.

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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."