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Ravens-Texans preview

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Ravens-Texans preview

Ravens vs. Texans
at Reliant Stadium, 1 p.m. ET, Sunday

The line: Texans -7.

Last week: Ravens (5-1) won at home vs. Dallas Cowboys 31-29; Texans (5-1) lost at home vs. Green Bay Packers 42-24.

Series: Ravens lead 5-0.

Last meeting: Ravens won 20-13 on Jan. 15 in AFC Divisional playoff game in Baltimore.

Burning questions: Can the Ravens defense make a stand and prevent RB Arian Foster from running roughshod? They've given up 200-plus yards in two consecutive games to opposing rushers. And will LB Terrell Suggs, who practiced for the first time this this week after an Achilles tear, have anything to do with it?

Keys to victory on offense: Getting off to a fast start and playing with an early cushion would help for an offense that has failed to score a touchdown in six connective quarters away from home. The Ravens also haven't scored a TD in the first quarter in four consecutive games. With the defense ailing, QB Joe Flacco might have to play his best game of the season and use Ray Rice in heavy doses. But that requires the offensive line keeping LB J.J. Watt out of the backfield.

Keys to victory on defense: CB Jimmy Smith expects to be targeted early and often as he fills in for the injured Lardarius Webb. He's a bigger, more physical in coverage which is good considering the Texans have a big WR in Andre Johnson. Also, the front seven for the Ravens can't continually allow themselves to get blown off the line of scrimmage. If this happens with Foster, all else is irrelevant because they'll have no chance of stopping Houston's attack.

Injury report: RAVENS -- Questionable: LT Bryant McKinnie (thigh), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), DT Ma'ake Kemoeatu (knee), CB Jimmy Smith (abs). Probable: OT Ramon Harewood (head). TEXANS -- Out: DE David Hunter (toe). Questionable: S Quintin Demps (thumb/forearm), CB Johnathan Joseph (groin). Probable: LB Bryan Braman (knee), G Antoine Caldwell (concussion), NT Shaun Cody (back), LB Bradie James (calf), WR Lestar Jean (knee), C Ben Jones (knee), S Shiloh Keo (neck/back/thumb), C Chris Myers (hip), LB Jesse Nading (foot/neck), T Derek Newton (forearm), G Wade Smith (knee), RB Ben Tate (toe).

Prediction: Ravens 17-14.

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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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