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A starter course ...


A starter course ...

Ravens coach JohnHarbaugh suggested on Tuesday that, as is his standard operating procedure forWeek 3 of the preseason, starters would likely work into the second half against Jacksonville on Thursday night inwhat will be their most extensive action of the preseason.This begs aquestion: Who exactly are the starters?
Sure, manystarting spots are nailed down. It's safe to say that quarterback, free safety, inside linebacker are pretty well set. But coming into camp, several positions were up for grabs. The past month has solidified some starting jobs and cloudedothers.Here's an updateon some of the key battles:
Left guard:Bobbie Williams vs. Jah Reid vs. Kelechi OsemeleWilliams is thepresumed starter, but the 12-year veteran has been bothered at times byswelling in his surgically repaired ankle. Reid was also considered an internalcandidate to fill the void left by the free agency departure of Ben Grubbs, butReid has been slowed much of training camp by a calf injury. Osemele, who has also gotten work at tackle, could bethe starter Thursday night, but look for Williams to be there in Week 1.
Cornerback: CaryWilliams vs. Jimmy SmithThis wasconsidered one of the top battles of camp, and it's fair to say it's stillundecided. Neither has seized the job, and both have struggled against elite receivers in the first two preseason games. For now it appears the job still belongsto Williams, who started every game last season. Smith, slowed last year by an ankle injury, has been bothered attimes by a back injury this summer. Both have been picked on by opposingquarterbacks, which is likely to continuewith Lardarius Webb on the other side.Nose tackle:Terence Cody vs. Ma'ake KemoeatuThis wasn'tprojected to be a battle, but Kemoeatu continues to have a strong camp andHarbaugh implied that he could be the starter. Cody started every game lastseason and is still the likely starter, but the depth at this position hasgotten much stronger with Kemoeatu's play.Outsidelinebacker: Courtney Upshaw vs. Albert McClellanThe prevailingwisdom was that after Terrell Suggs went down with his Achilles injury, Upshaw,the Ravens' first draft pick this past April, would slide in and take over. ButUpshaw missed time with a shoulder injury, and McClellan has continued toimpress. The former practice squad player, who started one game last season, hasstarted both preseason games and seems to have a slight edge over Upshaw fornow, though the Ravens' depth chart continues to list Upshaw on the top line.Kicker: BillyCundiff vs. Justin TuckerOh boy. This isgoing to be one tough call for the Ravens front office. Cundiff has been verygood in camp, which is probably enough to retain his job. But Tucker, the rookiebrought in ostensibly to push Cundiff, has done that and more. He has been themore accurate kicker, and has shown consistency from beyond 50 yards -- a major weakness of Cundiff's the past few years. Tucker evenhit a 63-yarder at the M&T Bank Stadium practice. The Ravens are not likely to keep both. If they cut Cundiff, theRavens part ways with a player they like and very publicly supported after hismiss in the AFC Championship Game. If they cut Tucker, they won't get him back.He will be kicking somewhere in the NFL this year. If Tucker has shown anythingthis camp, it's that there aren't 31 better kickers out there. We'll know forsure by next Friday, Aug. 31, when the Ravens have to get down to their 53-manroster.

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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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Ravens D-coordinator Don Martindale puts personal stamp on unit

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Ravens D-coordinator Don Martindale puts personal stamp on unit

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- There are no dreary work days for Don Martindale, who has overwhelmingly embraced his new role as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.

After serving for five seasons as the team's linebackers coach, Martindale was promoted to coordinator in January after Dean Pees left the post.

Enthusiastic doesn't even begin to describe Martindale's attitude about being in charge of the defense.

"Ever since we've made this transition, it's been a joy to just come through those gates every day. I love it," Martindale said after Wednesday's mandatory minicamp practice.

This isn't the first time Martindale has been put in charge of molding a defense. In 2010, he watched over a unit in Denver that was the worst in the NFL in both yards and points allowed per game.

Given a second chance, the 55-year-old Martindale is putting together a defense that will rely heavily on the instinct of several of its most proven players, most notably safety Eric Weddle and linebackers Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley.

"He's just putting his personal fix on our defense and expanding it, giving the guys confidence to play fast," Weddle said. "The idea is to do what's best for the defense, not what's best the individual."

Martindale called Mosley "the quarterback" of a fluid unit that can make a snap-change from drop-back coverage to an all-out blitz. In that regard, Mosley believes this defense is superior to the one that in 2017 yielded 18.9 points per game, sixth-best in the NFL.

"The way we're able to use our core guys, put them in different spots and do some of the same things just from different positions, it's more creative, I would say, than where we were last year," Mosley said.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh promoted Martindale rather than go outside the organization because he wanted to extend his vision of a defense that has evolved since his arrival in 2008.

"All we're doing is forwarding John's plan," Martindale said. "We're remodeling the package. It's still Ravens football, it's still Ravens defense, but we've streamlined it. It's the elegant simplicity. Guys are playing really fast."

Asked for his take on Martindale's defense, Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg replied, "They're fast and they're furious."

Sure, things might be different once the pads go on at training camp, but at this point, Martindale's boss likes what he sees.

"We're doing a lot of neat things on defense, things that are really good," Harbaugh said. "More than ever, we're putting it on our players to make decisions in real time."

Martindale has a new title, but old habits die hard.

"For the most part, it's been the same," Mosley said. "He always comes in and says, `I have to lead the linebacker room,' and sits down and gets to talking like he's back at linebacker coach."

Told of Mosley's disclosure, Martindale smiled and said, "I've been trying to stay out of there, but you can't help but go in. That's home. I have a good time in the secondary room as well."

And just about everywhere else.

"Where we're going with this thing is really exciting to me," Martindale said, "and I know it's exciting to the players."

In other training camp news, cornerback Jimmy Smith was a surprise participant at practice, going through a light regimen of individual drills just six months after tearing his left Achilles tendon.

"I don't know if Jimmy's like half Wolverine, but he's healed up in half the time of regular human beings," Weddle said, referring to the amazing recuperative powers of the Marvel super hero.