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Secondary ignores controversy over Welker


Secondary ignores controversy over Welker

A lot is being made of Wes Welker's role with the New England Patriots.

Welker, who is playing under a one-year franchise tag after failing to work out a deal during the offseason, has eight catches for 109 yards through two games.

Sounds reasonable?

It does. Except last season, Welker had an NFL-high 122 catches for 1,569 yards. He had eight catches for 160 in the 2011 opener alone. He had 15 for 241 yards after two games.

This season, Welker has spent a lot of time on the bench in an offense that emphasizes two tight ends, including in a 20-18 loss to the Arizona Cardinals last week. Welker finally got on the field when tight end Aaron Hernandez got hurt.

Coach Bill Belichick was curt when asked about Welker's role and limited playing time and blew off questions earlier this week.

Quarterback Tom Brady is spreading the ball around to more targets. Now he has Brandon Lloyd in the mix. The Patriots also recently re-signed Deion Branch, who was among the final cuts before the season began.

The moves point to less Welker and more of everyone else.

"Last year we had some pretty good passing statistics to (Rob) Gronkowski and Hernandez and Welker and Branch," Brady said. "That's what good offensive football is -- not really jam it into one player -- but trying to find the open guy and make a good throws."

Just to be safe, the Ravens are assuming Welker will play a major role in Sunday's game.

"It has nothing to do with us whether he's there or not," Ravens cornerback Cary Williams said Friday. "We're still preparing the same way."

The Ravens will use a lot of nickel packages -- five defensive backs -- to combat the Patriots, who flood the field with receivers. Even without Welker being used as much, they attack in similar fashion.

"They haven't changed. That's part of their offense and something they do," Williams said. "They want to spread you out. That's fine. We're ready for that."

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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."