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Returning punts may be added to WR Smith's plate


Returning punts may be added to WR Smith's plate

OWINGS MILLS - Coach John Harbuagh has not ruled out using wide receiver Steve Smith as a punt returner on occasion this season.

With Jacoby Jones departed to the Chargers, the returner’s job is wide open. The idea of giving Smith an opportunity with the ball in open space intrigues Harbaugh, particularly in key situations. Harbaugh believes the reward could outweigh the potential risk of injury.

“At some point in time, you put your best players on the field,” Harbaugh said. “Punt return is an opportunity in space to make a play, and guys like Steve Smith are pretty good at doing that. I like having our best players on the field as much as possible, but we’ll have to decide that. I don’t think it’s a given. We’ll have to pick our situation and see how we want to do it. We’re far from having that answer yet.”

Returning punts is OK by Smith, as long as he gets adequate blocking. He returned punts for a number of years with the Panthers, but stopped when he felt the blocking was not up to par.

“That’s what took me off it,” Smith said. “The blocking wasn’t there where it used to be. Basically, it’s kind of like going to a job, (and) they don’t want to pay you. We can’t pay you but we want you to work. No, I’m good.

“Blocking is essential. So with the good blocking, it’s really easy. It makes it very easy to focus on catching the ball.”

Smith said the idea of returning punts again intrigued him.

“I’ve been out there practicing,” Smith said. “I think I’ll do it at least once or twice, so I’m excited about doing it.”

If Smith does return punts, the kind if excitement he can create is what the Ravens are looking for.





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Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst


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."