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With Devin Hester gone, Michael Campanaro looking forward to chance as Ravens returner

With Devin Hester gone, Michael Campanaro looking forward to chance as Ravens returner

Michael Campanaro is looking forward to playing Sunday instead of watching.

The struggles of veteran returner Devin Hester, who was cut Tuesday, hurt the Ravens with field position this season and led to a safety against the Patriots on Monday night. Sunday against the Eagles, Campanaro figures to get his opportunity to return punts, with possible help from safety Lardarius Webb.

“Just looking to go out there and make a positive impact,” said Campanaro, who was elevated from the practice squad to the 53-man roster Tuesday. “We haven’t done a good job as a team (in the return game). I don’t think it’s put on one person when it comes to kick returning and punt returning. It’s a collective group.”

Campanaro, a Baltimore-area product from River Hill High School, has been injury-plagued since the Ravens drafted him in 2014 (seventh round). When healthy, Campanaro has displayed sure hands and the ability to get open as a slot receiver. However, Campanaro has only played in eight games during his career, and he was waived with an injury settlement in September before being re-signed in November.

“I definitely have a lot to prove my teammates and team, and (I) have a lot of plays to make,” Campanaro said. “This is my third year. I’m just excited to get back out there and play football.”

Hester no longer looked like the great returner he once was, but he shared some of his wisdom with Campanaro over the past few weeks.

“Great mentor,” said Campanaro. “Was willing to teach me, always giving me advice. It sucks to see him go, but it is an opportunity. I’m just looking to make the most of it.”

MORE RAVENS: Can Ravens win without Jimmy Smith?

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Ravens vs. Broncos Week 3: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

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Ravens vs. Broncos Week 3: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Baltimore Ravens' Week 3 matchup against the Denver Broncos could have more repercussions than you think. As Case Keenum and Von Miller roll into town, a win will be vital before the team hits the road for three weeks. 

Coming off 10 days of rest, we'll begin to see what this 2018 team can do after a blowout Week 1 win to the Buffalo Bills was followed up by a dud of a Week 2 in Cincinnati

Joe Flacco and his three new receivers have been connecting on all levels, but now it's time to allow the backs to hit the ground running (pun intended). Alex Collins and Co. are averaging just 3.3 yards-per-carry, something John Harbaugh is not happy about.

"That’s a big priority," Harbaugh said Monday on getting the running game going. "We’re not, in any way, pleased with the numbers. And, we are very determined to run the ball well, because we think it fits our offense, and it’s something that opens everything else up. So, we have to get that going.”

The Ravens' receivers will need to take advantage of a weak Broncos secondary. Raiders' Derek Carr completed 29 of 32 in Week 2 thanks to the Broncos' CBs. That doesn't mean their defense is lacking entirely. There's of course outside linebacker Miller, who already has four sacks on the season, and strong safety Darian Stewart who will be the Ravens' offense' main target. 

"He’s the straw that stirs the drink, no doubt – one of the very best in the league at what he does," Harbaugh said. "We will have to have him accounted for at all times, on every play. If we don’t do that, he’ll wreck the game. That’s job [No.] 1 on offense – that’s where it starts.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Ravens could be without Pro Bowl middle linebacker C.J. Mosley after suffering a bone bruise in Week 2. He did participate in Thursday's practice, but there has been no word on his availability for Sunday's matchup. 

Mosley's absence was felt immediately against the Bengals, but the defense has had plenty of time to plan accordingly. A veteran presence was brought back to fill the void in Albert McCllelan as the team will have to keep a close eye on the Broncos' dynamic running back duo in undrafted rookie Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman.

Lindsay in currently third in the NFL in rushing yards (178) and has 35 receiving yards for one touchdown. His 100-plus yards in two games makes the 24-year-old the first undraftetd rookie to ever reach that achievement. Over two games, Freeman has rushed 23 times for 99 yards and one touchdown. 

Against the Ravens, quarterback Case Keenum has a 62.2 career rating in three starts with the Vikings, Texans and Rams. He still has a 2-1 record, however, against Baltimore. In his last six road starts, he's put up 13 touchdowns, five interceptions and a 100.8 rating.

Defensive tackle Willie Henry (abdomen), tight end Hayden Hurst (foot) and defensive tackle Michael Pierce (foot) did not participate in Thursday's practice. Linebacker Matthew Judon (hamstring), Mosley (knee) and tackle Ronnie Stanley (elbow) were limited. 

Cornerback Adam Jones (thigh), inside linebacker Brandon Marshall (knee), nose tackle Domata Peko Sr. (not injury related) and tackle Jared Veldheer (concussion) did not practice Thursday for the Broncos. Safety Dymonte Thomas (abdomen) was limited. 

The two have met 13 times  – including two postseason games – with the Ravens leading the series 7-6. Ahead of Sunday's matchup, here's everything you need to know to watch.

RAVENS VS. BRONCOS WEEK 3 HOW TO WATCH:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos

What: Week 3 regular season

When: Sunday, Sept. 22, 2018, 1:00 p.m. ET

Where: M&T Bank Stadium

TV Channel: CBS

Live Stream: Watch Now with FuboTV - Try Free Trial

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090 and 98Rock

Weather: 67 degrees, cloudy

RAVENS 2018 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE:

Week 1: Sun., 9/9 vs. Bills, 1:00 p.m. (W: 47-3)

Week 2: Thur., 9/13 @ Bengals, 8:20 p.m. (L: 34-23)

Week 3: Sun., 9/23 vs. Broncos. 1:00 p.m.

Week 4: Sun., 9/30 @ Steelers, 8:20 p.m.

Week 5: Sun., 10/7 @ Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 6: Sun., 10/14 @ Titans, 4:25 p.m.

Week 7: Sun., 10/21 vs. Saints, 4:05 p.m.

Week 8: Sun., 10/28 @ Panthers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 9: Sun., 11/4 vs. Steelers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 10:  BYE week

Week 11: Sun., 11/18 vs. Bengals, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12: Sun., 11/25 vs. Raiders, 1:00 p.m.

Week 13: Sun., 12/2 @ Falcons, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: Sun., 12/9 @ Chiefs, 1:00 p.m.

Week 15: Sun., 12/16 vs. Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: Sat., 12/22 or Sunday 12/23 @ Chargers, TBD

Week 17: Sun., 12/30 vs. Browns, 1:00 p.m.

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Despite the optics, Ravens do have a weekly game plan for Lamar Jackson

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USA TODAY Sports

Despite the optics, Ravens do have a weekly game plan for Lamar Jackson

When the Ravens' offense takes the field on gameday, your eyes are probably searching for No. 8.

Since trading back into the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, one of the biggest questions facing the Ravens is how they would utilize the dynamic talents of Lamar Jackson in the present. 

The former Heisman Trophy winner has seen action in each of the Ravens' regular-season games at both QB and receiver. But fans looking for that instant spark, like what Browns rookie Baker Mayfield provided Thursday night, have yet to find No. 8.

While the use of Jackson and Joe Flacco at the same time allows for a playbook with more versatility, it continues to be a feeling-out process for both the Ravens and fans. 

“A lot of thought goes into that. We’ll see," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said on the process of deciding when to use Jackson. 

"Every game will be different with Lamar. He’ll play a little bit more in some, a little bit less in others, depending on who we’re going against, what style we’re going against and all those things.”

 “It’s week to week, gameplan to gameplan, game to game during the game," head coach John Harbaugh added during a Monday press conference. "There are more plays than five in the gameplan for him. We’ll just try to do what we can do with all the weapons we have to try to put as many points up as we can. That’s really what we’re trying to do with all our guys. I put him in the same category that way.”

In Week 1 against the Bills, Jackson took over the reins in the third quarter, going 1-of-4 for 25 yards and one sack. He added 39 rushing yards, averaging 5.6 yards-per-carry.

Then, in Week 2 against the Bengals, the rookie rushed two times for just six yards averaging 3 yards-per-carry. 

Jackson has yet to break through in the regular season, but there is absolutely zero reason for concern. 

He is simply an additional tool the Ravens are keeping in their back pocket for now, and while their reasoning behind using him on particular plays may appear sporadic, there's a method behind the madness. 

"There are a lot of different reasons why Lamar goes into a game at a particular time. It may not look like it, but it is well thought out.”

The Ravens' Week 3 opponent  — the Denver Broncos — expect to see Jackson on the field Sunday. When asked how much they're are preparing for him, Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller admitted the challenge he creates for a defense.

"I mean, like you said, it's tough to prepare for a guy like Lamar Jackson," Miller said on a conference call with media Wednesday. "There's not a receiver that can throw like him. It's hard to replicate that on the scout team. It's definitely a challenge." 

The good news for the Ravens and Jackson is that there's still a whole lot of football left to figure it all out. 

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