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A dirty hit or an error by Flacco? Thursday Night Football shows a tale of two opinions

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A dirty hit or an error by Flacco? Thursday Night Football shows a tale of two opinions

Was it a dirty hit or an error on Flacco's part?

That's the big question Friday morning after Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco took a massive hit while sliding to get a first down from Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso during Thursday Night Football. 

Flacco, who's had a very bad 2017 season, turned on the jets in the second quarter when Alonso's shoulder came right to Flacco's head, immediately knocking his helmet off and cutting his ear.

Flacco was visibly dazed and confused and signaled to the sideline for assistance before picking himself up off the field and heading straight to the locker room, where he was put on concussion protocol and later ruled out.

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Ravens players, coaches and fans were not happy with Alonso, who they felt should have been ejected after the hit. Alonso was flagged for unnecessary roughness giving the Ravens a first down and eventually a touchdown.

So why not an ejection?

Some people feel it was clearly a dirty hit on Flacco while others, including some members of the TNF halftime crew, pointed out that Flacco slid a second too late considering a defensive player was coming towards him full speed.

Flacco isn't known for his elite sliding skills and he could have slid a bit sooner, but aren't QB's and concussions in general a big bullet point in league safety rules these days? 

Per ESPN's Jamison Hensley's recent article, league rules state to "treat a sliding runner as they would a runner who is down by contact" and "pull up when a runner begins a feet-first slide," which Flacco appeared to do. 

"If a defender has already committed himself...and the contact is unavoidable, it is not a foul unless the defender makes forcible contact into the head or neck area of the runner with the helmet, shoulder, or forearm, or commits some other act that is unnecessary roughness."

Alonso clearly led with his shoulder, but was it considered "flagrant" which would allow the refs to eject him?

That's were the difference in opinions lies. 

The hit on Flacco was brutal but could both players have avoided it with better decision making? That's hard to say in a live-action situation.

On one hand Flacco was trying to make a play for his team and on the other hand, Alonso claims he couldn't judge when Flacco was going to slide.

"That's out of my hands, man. ... It's a bang-bang play, and I hope he's all right," Alonso said. I truly do."

"When a guy slides, the target is very small. I just think it [Flacco's slide] was a second late, which is why I hit him, to be honest with you. At first I was anticipating I thought he was going to slide. And then it got to a point where I was like, 'I got to him,' because he slid too late."

Many quarterbacks avoid sliding for this very reason.

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Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was visibly upset after his QB went down, running onto the field to try and confront Alonso.

When asked about the hit during the teams post-game press conference, Harbaugh said, "It was penalized correctly, I would say."

However, Ravens players felt the same in the locker room as the did on the field. 

"If you mess with one of us, you got to mess with all of us," defensive tackle Bandon Williams said.

"We went out there and gave everything we had for Joe, the team, the coaches and Baltimore. We had to let everybody know that you can't just mess with one of us and know expect to get hit 53 more times."

There certainly is a gray area.

So, going forward how does the league explain what is the right call?

Different calls have been made in similar scenarios and it may be time for the league to tweak their rules to avoid future confusion and to maintain consistency.

Per NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, the league is reviewing the hit.

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Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst

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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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