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Ravens defense keeps bending

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Ravens defense keeps bending

On one play, Jamaal Charles can turn the tide for the Kansas City Chiefs.

The running back went wide left vs. the New Orleans Saints, found a seam and ran 91 yards down the sideline for a touchdown en route to a 233-yard performance in a comeback victory. Both are NFL highs this season.

While the Ravens haven't given up any plays that big, it underscores the importance of improving on their defensive play and not allowing game-changers. The Chiefs trailed 24-6 late in the third quarter when Charles made that run and beat the Saints in overtime 27-24.

The Ravens are just 23rd in overall defense, allowing 390.3 total yards per game. The only teams that are worse don't have winning records.

In a 23-16 win vs. the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens held them to three field goals on their four scores though receiver Greg Little dropped a touchdown pass. They've got eight takeaways and are plus-4 overall which is tied for sixth in the league.

"You can move the ball down the field all you want to," linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said. "If you can't get in, that's all that matters. We don't want to play a bend-no-break defense but it's still early in the season. We still got a lot of improving to do."

Safety Bernard Pollard, however, isn't pleased. Defense has always been a staple of the Ravens, who have improved against the run but not vs. the pass.

Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden threw for 320 yards in the Browns game. Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles almost reached 400.

The Ravens allow 295.8 yards through the air. By comparison, even the winless Cleveland Browns (286) and New Orleans Saints (276.5) are better.

"This is something that we're not proud about. We play hard," Pollard said. "Teams are going to get their passing yards against you. It's a lot of plays that we wish we could take back.

"We got to stop the big gains. If they catch the ball for seven yards we got to tackle him now. We can't allow him to run for 28, 31 yards. That's what's killing us right now."

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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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