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Rookie Justice Hill puts himself in Ravens running back mix

Rookie Justice Hill puts himself in Ravens running back mix

BALTIMORE – Justice Hill is bashing his way into the Ravens’ running back conversation. 

Mark Ingram is the veteran free-agent signing and the clear No. 1. Gus Edwards is a proven commodity who brings value to the position after a strong rookie season. But behind them, there is still a role to be carved out. 

Hill staked his claim in the second preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium on Thursday in a 26-13 win against the Green Bay Packers. He had 10 carries for 49 rushing yards and a touchdown. 

Kenneth Dixon, a fourth-round draft pick in 2016, is still clearly in the mix. But Hill, this year’s fourth-round draft pick from Oklahoma State, took advantage of his chances on Thursday. 

“He really made some runs, didn’t he?" Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. “He made some tough runs. He had some speed runs, too, where he accelerated. But he had some tough runs.”

The one on the goal line where Hill busted into the end zone from one yard out came just after a fumble recovery by defensive lineman Patrick Ricard. That made it 20-6 Ravens with 13:28 left in the third quarter. 

On another run, Hill appeared hemmed in by Packers defenders with nowhere to go, but broke three tackles for a 14-yard run and a first down. It was a good night. 

“If you’re going to play running back, you gotta be able to make some people miss,” Hill said. 

Dixon was the one who got to run with the second-teamers after Ingram departed following one impressive series with 18 yards on four carries. But he had just 14 yards on six carries. 

Hill entered with 8:03 left in the second quarter and played the entire third quarter. That’s where his 14-yard run and the touchdown came. The Ravens had seen enough in the fourth quarter as Hill gave way for players further down the depth chart.

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Former Ravens Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg denies wanting to move Lamar Jackson to wide receiver

Former Ravens Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg denies wanting to move Lamar Jackson to wide receiver

According to a report from former NFL general manager Michael Lombardi, former Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg wanted to move Lamar Jackson to wide receiver. 

Mornhinweg, and the Ravens, claim that’s not true. 

Tuesday morning, Mornhinweg and the Ravens released a statement that claims the conversation Lombardi reported never happened. 

“That didn’t happen,” Mornhinweg responded, according to the release. “Never said that. My thoughts before the draft, and even more when we started working with Lamar, was that this young man was going to be a special quarterback. Very early we saw that along with all of his throwing and escape abilities, he reads the field as well as any young quarterback I ever worked with.”

Mornhinweg, who was the Ravens’ offensive coordinator for three years and with the organization for four, left the organization after last season ended.

The original report from Lombardi, which was on the GM Shuffle podcasts that he hosts, stated that Mornhinweg wanted to move Jackson to wide receiver. 

“Here’s what happened,” Lombardi began. “The first time he (Lamar Jackson) comes in, Marty Mornhinweg — remember, we’re building the team around him — Marty says to the coaches, this is fact, ‘When are we gonna move him to receiver?’”

Lombardi was a scout for the 49ers and Browns before working for the Eagles, Raiders, Browns (for a second time) and the Patriots. He was the general manager and VP of the Browns in 2013-14. He currently works for The Athletic.

“Organizationally, we were on the same page with Lamar, and I thought Ozzie (Newsome) and Eric (DeCosta) did a great job to take him where we did,” coach John Harbaugh added in the release. “Marty was excited from the beginning to coach Lamar and was instrumental in helping him progress through his rookie season.”

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Ravens don't have to worry about Rob Gronkowski returning for the NFL Playoffs

Ravens don't have to worry about Rob Gronkowski returning for the NFL Playoffs

Sitting atop the AFC North and East divisions at 8-2 and 9-1 respectively, the Ravens and Patriots could face each other again in January for either the divisional round or AFC championship.

One thing is for sure -- even if Baltimore has to face the Patriots in Foxborough, the Ravens will not have to worry about crafting a game plan for retired tight end Rob Gronkowski.

The five-time Pro Bowl receiver is guaranteed to be in Miami for Super Bowl LIV, but not to play football -- instead, throwing a party off the field that he calls Gronk Beach.

Gronk told ESPN that a return to playing for the NFL is "always an option in the back of my head. It's not like I'm not staying in shape and not doing anything."

"I wouldn't say 'never coming back,'" Gronk told ESPN after announcing his Gronk Beach festival, that includes performances by Diplo, Kaskade, Rick Ross and Flo Rida. "I'm feeling good, but you know, one year off could possibly be the case. Or maybe two years off, man."

Baltimore already bloodied New England 37-20, handing the Pats their first and only loss of the season thus far when they visited M&T Bank Stadium in Week 9, but both teams should almost certainly anticipate a postseason meeting. Arguably the greatest tight end in league history, Gronk knows his team could use his talents again.

"With the offense, they're finding ways to make it work like they've always done, putting guys in the right situation to make plays," Gronkowski told ESPN about watching the Patriots games closely this season. "But man, they're missing some guy who is 6-6, 260 [pounds]," referencing himself.

Baltimore, you're in the clear this year. But that's all Gronk can guarantee.

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