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Ravens look for Smith's improvement

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Ravens look for Smith's improvement

Jimmy Smith got off to a slow start as a rookie, getting hurt in his first game and missing time before returning to the lineup. He struggled at times for a few weeks before playing much better in the second half of 2011.

The Ravens are hoping that the 2012 becomes somewhat of a repeat of that.

Smith's struggled at times this year but continued to improve recently. He played better in Sunday's win in Cleveland, and the Ravens need his help in the second half of the season as he's stepping in for the injured Lardarius Webb, out for the year with a knee injury.

Coach John Harbaugh talked with the media on Monday on how he likes what he's seeing from Smith and hopes that the second-year cornerback can keep getting better and help the secondary, which struggled throughout the first half of the season.

Harbaugh also understands Smith and what he's going through since he dealt with it himself in younger days.

"Jimmy Smith can be a difference-maker as the season goes on," Harbaugh said Monday. "He made plays yesterday, he’s physical, and he’s another guy that’s only going to get better the more he plays. He didn’t play that much last year, and he’s starting to play more regularly now. So, you talk about Cary [Williams] … Jimmy is another guy, to use the term loosely … I’m an old corner; if you can even call it that.  But I love those guys. Those guys are on the island, man. It’s a tough position to play; they’re always scrutinized. And we have two very good corners.”

Now, it will be interesting to see what Smith can do in the second half of the season. He made more plays last year in the second half, and it would help the Ravens if Smith could do that again.

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A big Year 2 ahead, Lamar Jackson isn’t worried about Madden ratings

A big Year 2 ahead, Lamar Jackson isn’t worried about Madden ratings

The number eight is sports royalty in the city of Baltimore thanks to Cal Ripken Jr.

If Lamar Jackson has the career many are hoping for, he’ll be another reason for that one day down the road.

For now, he’s a young, athletic quarterback entering his second season in Charm City. But his successful rookie year hasn’t been reflected in Madden NFL 20’s newest ratings.

Jackson came in with an overall rating of 76, tied for 24th among all quarterbacks. Unsurprisingly, his athleticism is highly-regarded, as he leads all signal-callers in speed, acceleration, agility, and elusiveness.

Questions abound about his throwing abilities, leading to the low rating. But that’s not a concern for Jackson himself.

“I can’t feel no way,” the quarterback told media members prior to throwing out the first pitch at the Orioles-Nationals game Wednesday night. “You know, I don’t make Madden. That’s them. But I feel like our team, we’re going to show ‘em this season.”

Jackson continued to praise the Ravens roster. When asked about the high ratings for teammates like Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Earl Thomas, Jackson put his thoughts quite succinctly: “We look stacked!”

Of course, with speed and acceleration ratings like Jackson has, it’s fun to imagine how he might fit in on a baseball diamond as well.

“Whew, somewhere in the middle, to make a play,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde decided when asked where the Ravens quarterback might play on his roster.

“I’m looking forward to meeting him. I’m a big football fan, so watched him play a lot. And if he wanted to play center field or up the middle, it’d be great,” Hyde continued.

The speedy quarterback agreed, though it came with a caveat.

“Probably,” Jackson quickly answered when asked about his best fit being center field. “But you know, I’m the Ravens QB right now, so I’m good.”

He doesn’t know what his walk-up song would be if he played baseball, but Jackson was definitive about one thing at least: his hot dog preferences.

“I don’t really eat mustard,” he emphasized. “So I just put ketchup, relish...I just go from there. Pretty standard.”

When he’s not eating hot dogs, Jackson is working hard to build chemistry with his new receiving corps, and he seemed optimistic about the results it will bring on the field.

“Looking pretty good,” he described. “You’ll have to see for yourself.”

Knowing how many dual Orioles and Ravens fans there are in Baltimore, Jackson was also happy to provide a little hope as the city’s attention starts to shift from baseball to football. He gave a message to O’s fans who have sat through months of losing baseball and are looking to the Ravens to bring winning back to the city.

“Look forward to us coming out and balling,” he said. “Can’t say too much right now, [the] season’s not here!”

The Ravens season will be here soon enough, and when it is, Jackson will be ready to go out and show both local and national fans what he can do, regardless of what his Madden rating says.

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Sports Illustrated predicts Ravens defense will regress this season

Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Sports Illustrated predicts Ravens defense will regress this season

With training camp just eight days away, here is the latest news surrounding the Baltimore Ravens.

1. The Ravens are expected to have one of the best defenses in the NFL this season, but not the No. 1 ranked. Sports Illustrated's Andy Benoit says he predicts the Ravens defense will actually regress due to the loss of C.J. Mosely and Terrell Suggs in free agency. However, not as much as one would expect, he says.

2. Speaking of defense, Ravens outside linebacker Matthew Judon is entering his contract year. The Athletics' Jeff Zrebiec writes that this upcoming season should be a breakout year for Judon who could make a big impact on defense. 

3. Ravens Training Camp passes are now available. The Ravens have 14 different training camp practices open to the public this season. Claim your tickets and parking pass here or on the Ravens' mobile app.

Looking Ahead:

July 24: Ravens training camp begins. Rookies are set to report a week earlier on Wednesday, July 17. 

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Rotoworld and Baltimore Ravens for news points.

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