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Ravens' run defense evaporates

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Ravens' run defense evaporates

It's all about the W. That's the common refrain from the Ravens locker room even though they've been gouged for record amounts of yardage en route to a 5-1 record.

Sunday, they gave up a franchise record 227 yards on the ground to the Dallas Cowboys. They finished with allowing 481 overall.  The previous week, the Ravens allowed Jamaal Charles to rush for 140 of the Kansas City Chiefs' 214 yards on the ground.

In their only loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2, they allowed 486 yards and an astounding nine plays of 20 yards or more.

The Ravens' defense, which long has been a staple of this franchise, is falling apart and is shredded with injuries to linebacker Ray Lewis (triceps) and cornerback Lardarius Webb (ACL tear).

"We're not happy with how we played on the defensive side of the ball. We're not. We put ourselves in this position two weeks in a row -- two weeks in a row," said safety Bernard Pollard in an agitated tone. "Teams (are) going to come in they're going to run the ball.

"If we show them we can't stop it, people going to run it. So we've got to stop it."

After weeks of dismissal that the only stat that matters is the final score, pride is starting to kick in. The Ravens don't want to become a punchline for their particularly porous play against the run. They'd only allowed the New England Patriots 77 yards rushing and the Cleveland Browns 43 before the floodgates opened.

Through six games last season, the Ravens were allowing just 63.8 yards per game for a total of 383. The most they'd given up was 112 on the road vs. the St. Louis Rams.

This season, the average yards allowed on the ground has more than doubled -- 141.5 per game for a total of 849.

"We got to tighten down. We're happy we won but we don't want to be bottom-ranked in the NFL in defense," said defensive end Arthur Jones, who played at tackle as well in Sunday's win. "That's something we take personal.

The Ravens have to regroup to face running back Arian Foster of the Houston Texans on Sunday.

"We'll get it right. You got to give credit to these last two backs we played," Jones said. "They're no slouches. It's a test for our defense. How well can we bounce back from this, flush it and get ready for next week."

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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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