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Steelers face playoff cliff

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Steelers face playoff cliff

In Washington, where the fiscal cliff looms menacingly for the Congress, the president and the American people, there is talk about cutting entitlements.

In Pittsburgh, where the Steelers find themselves with a precariously uncertain playoff outlook at 6-5 — and no realistic shot at the AFC North heading into Sunday’s game with the 9-2 Ravens — at least one Steeler is also talking about cutting back on entitlement.

Safety Ryan Clark told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "You lose one game in Pittsburgh and the sky is falling; it's just part of the culture. It's part of winning six Super Bowls, it's part of being 12-4 three of last four years. We're a spoiled bunch, and overall we've become entitled. But you can't be entitled, you can't walk into places and just think because you're the Pittsburgh Steelers you're going to win.

"We need to execute, and we haven't been executing. Do we need to win [Sunday]? Without a doubt. We would have needed to win [against the Ravens] had we won this game."

Clark was referring to Pittsburgh’s 20-14 loss to division cellar-dweller Cleveland last weekend, which left the Steelers just barely in a playoff spot.

"It's going to be tough, man, but we're mentally tough," nose tackle Casey Hampton told the Post-Gazette. "We're going to come out there and keep fighting. I'm not worried about that. … There's no question in my mind the type of fight this team has in them."

And part of that fight is not using the team’s injury problems, even when that means the Steelers are down to third-string quarterback Charlie Batch, as an excuse.

"If guys get healthy or they don't get healthy, we need to find ways to win," Hampton said. "You can't count on guys who you don't know if they're going to be there or not. We have a good enough football team to win those kinds of football games, and we have to do it.”

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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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