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Rookie's skills as a returner could fill void for Ravens

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Rookie's skills as a returner could fill void for Ravens

Having skills as a returner could give wide receiver DeAndre Carter a better chance to stick with the Ravens. 

Carter is an undrafted rookie from Sacramento St. hoping to make the roster. His college numbers were certainly impressive. Carter led the Football Championship Subdivision last season with 99 catches for 1,321 receiving yards.

However, Carter’s ticket to the NFL may be his ability to return punts and kicks. The Ravens cut Jacoby Jones, who had been their primary returner for several seasons. Lardarius Webb and Michael Campanaro are candidates to replace Jones. But Webb is a starting cornerback who the Ravens want to protect from injury. Campanaro has already had trouble staying healthy, out until training camp with a quadriceps injury.

That leaves a potential opening for Carter, who had a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown at Sacramento St. last season. The biggest knock on Carter as a receiver has been his size (5-foot-8), but that would not stop Carter from being an effective returner if he showed ability in that role.

During OTA’s, Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith has already been impressed with Carter as a receiver.

“I like (that) he’s hungry,” Smith said. “I’m biased – he’s a West Coast guy.  I just love his attitude. I see a young (Packers receiver) Randall Cobb in him, but I think he can play inside or outside. I’m excited to watch him play.”

The Ravens have had recent success with undrafted rookies, including wide receiver Marlon Brown and kicker Justin Tucker. Carter is another to keep an eye on.

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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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