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Time to rally special teams

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Time to rally special teams

There's so much that appears to be right with the Ravens.

While the loss of Terrell Suggs (Achilles) and Jarret Johnson (free agency) may result in the defense taking a step back, the offense is more than capable of compensating by scoring more points.

All signs point to the offense taking more chances to get touchdowns, particularly in the red zone, rather than settling for field goals.

Linebackers Paul Kruger and Albert McClellan have to fill the void. Kruger admitted a few weeks ago, after having an interception slip through his hands as he undercut a route by Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew, that he has to be a game-changer.

But an area where the Ravens have to especially tighten up is special teams. While they have the talent to return kicks with Jacoby Jones and Lardarius Webb -- rookies Asa Jackson, Deonte Thompson and Bobby Rainey received work there, too -- the coverage has shown leaks.

Too often in the preseason the Ravens would score and then relinquish good field position on the kickoff. They allowed 25.7 yards per kick return. On punts, they allowed 12 yards per return. There even were penalties that erased a touchdown return by Jackson and ruined a lengthy one by Thompson.

The responsibility to fix it falls on special teams coach Jerry Rosburg, who already lost Emanuel Cook in coverage for the season to a broken leg.

In close division races, such as the one the San Diego Chargers lost out on to the Kansas City Chiefs two seasons ago, the nuances can be the difference-maker as much as any player. It's no different in the AFC North with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the emerging Cincinnati Bengals.

The Chargers went 9-7 and missed the playoffs by one game in 2010. They allowed four touchdowns on kick and punt returns, including a 99-yard return in the fourth quarter that cost them a victory vs. the Seattle Seahawks and two weeks later two blocked punts resulted in a loss to the Oakland Raiders.

Overlook special teams and get left behind.

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Ravens place Marquise Brown, Jaylon Ferguson on reserve/NFI list

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Ravens place Marquise Brown, Jaylon Ferguson on reserve/NFI list

With training camp just six days away, here is the latest news surrounding the Baltimore Ravens.

1. Ian Rapoport reported that the Ravens have placed Marquise Brown, Jaylon Ferguson and two others on the reserve/NFI list. He later added that Brown is still recovering from Lisfranc surgery but is "progressing well" and Ferguson is dealing with a "minor hamstring" injury.

2. The entire Baltimore Ravens class is officially under contract after the signing of wide receiver Miles Boykin. Boykin was a third-round pick out of Notre Dame.

3. Michael Vick joined The Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan Friday morning and when asked which young quarterbacks in the NFL most emulate his style, he answered: "Lamar Jackson" along with Kyler Murray and Cam Newton.

Looking Ahead:

July 24: Ravens training camp begins. Rookies are set to report a week earlier on Wednesday, July 17. 

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Rotoworld and Baltimore Ravens for news points.

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A big Year 2 ahead, Lamar Jackson isn’t worried about Madden ratings

A big Year 2 ahead, Lamar Jackson isn’t worried about Madden ratings

The number eight is sports royalty in the city of Baltimore thanks to Cal Ripken Jr.

If Lamar Jackson has the career many are hoping for, he’ll be another reason for that one day down the road.

For now, he’s a young, athletic quarterback entering his second season in Charm City. But his successful rookie year hasn’t been reflected in Madden NFL 20’s newest ratings.

Jackson came in with an overall rating of 76, tied for 24th among all quarterbacks. Unsurprisingly, his athleticism is highly-regarded, as he leads all signal-callers in speed, acceleration, agility, and elusiveness.

Questions abound about his throwing abilities, leading to the low rating. But that’s not a concern for Jackson himself.

“I can’t feel no way,” the quarterback told media members prior to throwing out the first pitch at the Orioles-Nationals game Wednesday night. “You know, I don’t make Madden. That’s them. But I feel like our team, we’re going to show ‘em this season.”

Jackson continued to praise the Ravens roster. When asked about the high ratings for teammates like Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Earl Thomas, Jackson put his thoughts quite succinctly: “We look stacked!”

Of course, with speed and acceleration ratings like Jackson has, it’s fun to imagine how he might fit in on a baseball diamond as well.

“Whew, somewhere in the middle, to make a play,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde decided when asked where the Ravens quarterback might play on his roster.

“I’m looking forward to meeting him. I’m a big football fan, so watched him play a lot. And if he wanted to play center field or up the middle, it’d be great,” Hyde continued.

The speedy quarterback agreed, though it came with a caveat.

“Probably,” Jackson quickly answered when asked about his best fit being center field. “But you know, I’m the Ravens QB right now, so I’m good.”

He doesn’t know what his walk-up song would be if he played baseball, but Jackson was definitive about one thing at least: his hot dog preferences.

“I don’t really eat mustard,” he emphasized. “So I just put ketchup, relish...I just go from there. Pretty standard.”

When he’s not eating hot dogs, Jackson is working hard to build chemistry with his new receiving corps, and he seemed optimistic about the results it will bring on the field.

“Looking pretty good,” he described. “You’ll have to see for yourself.”

Knowing how many dual Orioles and Ravens fans there are in Baltimore, Jackson was also happy to provide a little hope as the city’s attention starts to shift from baseball to football. He gave a message to O’s fans who have sat through months of losing baseball and are looking to the Ravens to bring winning back to the city.

“Look forward to us coming out and balling,” he said. “Can’t say too much right now, [the] season’s not here!”

The Ravens season will be here soon enough, and when it is, Jackson will be ready to go out and show both local and national fans what he can do, regardless of what his Madden rating says.

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