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Ravens' Jimmy Smith won't make excuses after tough two weeks

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Ravens' Jimmy Smith won't make excuses after tough two weeks

OWINGS MILLS – Expect the Steelers to test Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith on Thursday night.

After a stellar Week 1 in Denver, including a pick-six for a touchdown against Peyton Manning, Smith has been victimized the past two weeks. On Sunday, A. J. Green of the Bengals beat Smith for the game-winning touchdown. Against the Raiders in Week 2, Amari Cooper burned Smith badly for a 68-yard touchdown.

Those plays have raised concerns about Smith’s confidence, and his health. Smith had season-ending foot surgery last season, and it’s understandable to wonder if he can change direction and accelerate as quickly as he wants to.

Smith faced the media following Monday’s night practice, after apologizing for being too upset to speak following Sunday’s game. Smith refused to use his foot, or anything else, as a crutch.

“People come back from injuries, they play,” Smith said. “Until this season is over, I’ll never talk about my foot.”

Asked about his confidence, Smith said, “I don’t think my confidence is shaken, because obviously, I still go down and I try to play the game I want to play. Obviously, you don’t want to give up big plays, but my confidence comes in my preparation, and I prepare. I study harder than most people, I would say. So my confidence isn’t going to shake just because a play has been made on me.”

But on Thursday, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown will be waiting. Brown led the NFL in receptions and receiving yards last season, and only Julio Jones of the Falcons has more receiving yards (440) than Brown (436) through Week 3.

Brown will remain dangerous with Michael Vick at quarterback for the Steelers in place of the injured Ben Roethlisberger. Vick has the arm strength to throw deep, and Brown does much of his damage on short passes that he turns into big plays with his running ability.

“Antonio Brown, he’s a very, very tough competitor,” Smith said. “They give him the ball all the time. You watch film and they wait until he gets open to throw him the ball. We’re going to have our hands full chasing that jackrabbit around.”

For Smith, Thursday night is a chance for redemption in prime time. Not making excuses is fine. But the Ravens need Smith to make more plays.

MORE RAVENS: Injury report: Ravens latest with Pittsburgh on Thursday

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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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