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Ravens should take closer look at young players

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Ravens should take closer look at young players

Giving some young players a closer look should be part of the Ravens’ strategy moving forward. At 2-7, the Ravens are going home after Week 17, not to the playoffs. For them to become a Super Bowl contender again in 2016, they need to find out which young players they can count on.

That list includes running back Buck Allen, safety Terrence Brooks, inside linebackers Arthur Brown and Zach Orr, wide receiver Jeremy Butler, defensive tackle Carl Davis, outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, and defensive ends Kapron Lewis-Moore and Brent Urban.

Giving young players an opportunity does not mean the Ravens should forget about trying to win. Losing more games and getting a higher draft position would not guarantee the Ravens a terrific draft.

However, the Ravens need to make accurate evaluations on young players who are healthy. What better way than to give them regular-season action against the opposing team’s starters?

The process of working more young players into the lineup began somewhat Sunday against the Jaguars. Butler played a season-high 19 snaps and caught his first pass in the NFL. Orr played seven snaps, and Brown played eight snaps, the first non-special teams action Brown had seen since 2013.

A second-round draft pick in 2013, Brown has been stuck on the depth chart behind Daryl Smith and C. J. Mosley. It’s time to find out if Brown can help the Ravens next year, or if he’s a draft bust who needs to move on.

Asked how he thought Brown played Sunday, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said, “Arthur did a good- played fast and was excited to be out there. (He) ran to the ball, made a couple of plays – nothing spectacular, but nothing that made you concerned, either. He has done a real good job in practice, and Arthur deserved a little more playing time, and he did well with it.”

Other young players should take heed. An opportunity for more playing time is there.

MORE RAVENS: Perriman tweets thoughts about season-ending injury

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Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

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USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

Football is back in session for the Ravens.

Their rookies are set to report to the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills, Md Wednesday. Veterans report next Wednesday, the 18th.

The team is reporting to training camp a bit earlier than most NFL teams. Due to Ray Lewis being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Aug. 4 in Canton, Oh, the Ravens will face the Chicago Bears in the annual Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2. Teams participating are eligible to begin training camp earlier.

This rookie class is already generating national attention. While the Ravens stand by Joe Flacco as their QB1, first-round pick Lamar Jackson could cause a shakeup at some point during the season. And when it comes to much-needed offensive help, tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews could begin to provide relief. 

Third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr. begins his journey with the Ravens in a more sentimental fashion. His father, Orlando "Zeus" Brown, also played tackle for the Ravens from 1996-98 and then again from 2003-05. Brown passed away in 2011. 

Stay with NBC Sports Washington throughout the next several weeks as we keep a close eye on the Ravens' preseason. 

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

There's only six months until the NFL playoffs and we've got no time to waste.

OK, maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves but online betting site, Oddshark, released their early 2018 NFL playoff odds and the Ravens are in a similar situation as previous years.

The Ravens are sitting at +135 — tied for 13th with the San Francisco 49ers — for the best odds to play January football. This would place them in the seventh seed among AFC teams and just outside contention.

The Patriots (-1500), Steelers (-550), Chargers (-145), Jaguars (-140), Texans (-135), and Chiefs (+120) are seeded above them respectively. 

During the 2017 season, the Ravens were constantly in the hunt for the fifth or sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture. Several weeks ahead of training camp, Vegas is predicting that to be the case in 2018.

Playoff odds in July mean nothing, but considering their offseason changes, the Ravens' 2018 season should bring positive change.

They added weapons for Joe Flacco in free agents Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown, and drafted tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews.

Then there was the late first-round draft pick of QB Lamar Jackson. Flacco remains the starter for now, but it will be interesting to see if that changes midway through the season or if they get them both on the field at the same time.

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