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Ravens-Steelers defensive predictions

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Ravens-Steelers defensive predictions

The Ravens can completely take over the AFC North with a win on Sunday against the Steelers. A lot of things look good for the Ravens heading into the contest, but the Steelers certainly won't just roll over and give up. They will push the Ravens. 

Here's a few predictions on what could happen in the game on defense:

1. The Ravens will be more aggressive with their pass rush, trying to put more pressure on quarterback Charlie Batch-- When the two teams last met and Byron Leftwich ran the Pittsburgh offense, the Ravens turned up the heat more as the game went on. Leftwich isn't very mobile -- never was, even in his best NFL days -- and Batch might be better, the Ravens don't have to worry about him in ways they do about Big Ben.

2. Pass coverage is going to continue to improve--This is an area that really had problems earlier in the season but has improved in a big way recently. Despite losing three key defensive backs, the Ravens have gotten good performances from safeties Bernard Pollard and Ed Reed, better play from cornerbacks Corey Graham and Cary Williams and others. Better pass coverage takes pressure off the pass rush, something that would help the Ravens.

3. The Ravens will create turnovers to help their offense-- The Steelers had an amazing eight turnovers in last week's loss to the Browns. That will not happen again, of course, but the defense should cause trouble since the Steelers have so many people at key positions who just don't have a lot of playing time and experience. That's a recipe for a defense to come up with interceptions and fumbles, all of which help the offense. 

Prediction: Ravens 24, Steelers 10-The Steelers are missing too many people, and the Ravens have recovered from their injury problems to get in a good groove defensively. That's going to prove to be too much for Pittsburgh to overcome

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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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