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Ravens-Patriots preview


Ravens-Patriots preview

Ravens vs. Patriots
at M&T Bank Stadium, 8:20 p.m. NBC

The line: Ravens -3.

Last week: Ravens (1-1) lost 24-23 to the Philadelphia Eagles; Patriots (1-1) lost 20-18 to the Arizona Cardinals.

Series: Patriots lead, 7-1. Ravens have never won a regular season meeting.

Last meeting: Ravens lost 23-20 in AFC championship game on Jan. 22 in New England.

Burning question: Will the real offense stand up for the Ravens? Is it the one that posted 37 points in the opener vs. Cincinnati or the one that couldn't score a TD in the second half last week at Philadelphia?

Keys to victory on offense: RB Ray Rice only had 16 carries for 99 yards. He had 78 yards on seven carries in the first half alone, but the Ravens opted to pass in critical situations late in the game, including third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 on their final drive in Philadelphia territory. Both were unsuccessful. Using FB Vonta Leach and No. 2 RB Bernard Pierce more in the attack can help. The receiving corp had difficulty getting free against the physical, aggressive play of the Eagles' corners. They should have an easier time with the Patriots' secondary by stretching the field and opening the underneath routes for the running backs and TE Dennis Pitta.

Keys to victory on defense: The Ravens were significantly better against the run, holding the Eagles' LeSean McCoy to 81 yards on 25 carries, by limiting his ability to cutback with rookie LB Courtney Upshaw performing surprisingly well in the starting lineup. The Pats have Stevan Ridley, who had 125 yards in the opener and is averaging 5.0 yards per carry this season. One area where the Ravens have yet to prove adequate is in their ability to pressure the quarterback. Pats QB Tom Brady flourishes when he has time and can pick apart a secondary. T Haloti Ngata is the only Ravens lineman who has shown any consistency in this area. Plus, the zone coverage by the linebackers was terrible against Philadelphia as TE Brent Celek had a career high 157 yards receiving. Brady's favorite target is TE Rob Gronkowski, who set an NFL record for receiving yards at his position last year. If the coverage doesn't improve underneath, then getting to Brady off of his spot is even more imperative.

Wild card: Ravens rookie K Justin Tucker is 6-for-6. He hit from 48, 51 and tied a club record from 56 last week alone. The Ravens lost a chance to go to the Super Bowl when then-K Billy Cundiff misfired on a 32-yard FG. That's extremely unlikely to happen with Tucker.

Injury report: RAVENS -- Doubtful: T Jah Reid (calf); Probable: LB Paul Kruger (back), LB Jameel McClain (knee), DE Pernell McPhee (knee), T Michael Oher (ankle), S Bernard Pollard (ribs), CB Lardarius Webb (knee). PATRIOTS -- Out: DT Justin Francis (ankle), TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle); Questionable: C Dan Connolly (concussion), DE Brandon Deaderick (ankle) CB Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring), TE Daniel Fells (shin), WR Brandon Lloyd (thigh), G Logan Mankins (hip), C Nick McDonald (shoulder), CB Sterling Moore (knee), RB Shane Vereen (foot), T Sebastian Vollmer (back); Probable: S Patrick Chung (shoulder).

Prediction: Ravens 28-24.

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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."