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Ravens' receivers need to silence doubts

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Ravens' receivers need to silence doubts

OWINGS MILLS – Tired of hearing the questions, it’s time for the Ravens wide receivers to provide answers.

Aside from Steve Smith, the Ravens will open the season Sunday in Denver with a receiving corps that has just 104 regular season catches combined:

Marlon Brown – 73 career catches

Kamar Aiken – 24 catches

Michael Campanaro – 7 catches

Breshad Perriman – zero catches

Darren Waller – zero catches

Meanwhile, first-round pick Perriman (knee injury) hasn’t practiced in six weeks, and he isn’t expected to play Sunday. So inquiring minds want to know. Do the Ravens have enough weapons for quarterback Joe Flacco? Not only to win Sunday, but to make a run at a Super Bowl?

Smith bristled Wednesday, when he heard the word “unproven” used in a question about his wide receiver teammates.

MORE RAVENS Asa Jackson signed to Ravens practice squad

“Unproven to you,” Smith fired back. “That’s why you’re not out there. We roll with the guys we have, we’re comfortable in that. Obviously, they may not be proven in stats, but also, you’re not out here every day watching these guys work – work their (tails) off – and see what they do. It is no overnight success. They’ve been grinding for awhile. So that’s really the great thing about football, is we get to apply what you guys think is unattainable. We get to do it every day.”

Nobody is questioning how much the Ravens’ receivers want to silence the naysayers. Aiken is hard not to root for. He entered the league undrafted in 2011, and he has already been with the Bills, the Bears, and the Patriots. In all those places, somebody told Aiken he wasn’t good enough. He never believed it.

Aiken earned his place as a starter on the depth chart opposite Smith. Asked if he thought Aiken would be a starting wide receiver Week 1, Flacco said, “Yes, no doubt. I think he was in a position to do a lot of things for us last year, just looking at our lineup and with the experience he has. Yes, I fully expected it and not surprising.”

In the best-case scenario for the Ravens, Perriman gets healthy and gives an explosive jolt to the offense whenever he returns. Like Odell Beckham Jr. did for the Giants last season. Campanaro stays healthy and makes plays as a slot receiver. Smith is Smith. Aiken capitalizes on his golden opportunity. And Brown plays like he did in 2013, when he had seven touchdown catches as a rookie.

In the worst-case scenario, Perriman’s injury leads to an inconsistent rookie season. Campanaro can’t beat the injury bug. And Smith, in his final season at age 36, doesn’t defy Father Time the way he defies cornerbacks.

Talk to some Ravens fans about the wide receivers, and they sound worried. Talk to the Ravens, and they sound confident. Who’s right? We’ve finally reached Week 1, where we’ll start getting some answers.

 

 

 

 

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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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