Ravens Nearly Bring Two Returns Back


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It was one of the greatest moments of cornerback Asa Jackson's life, so he says.

He had just bobbed and weaved all over M&T Bank Stadium, returning a punt 85 yards for a touchdown in his second preseason game versus Detroit.

Then Jackson looked back.

"I got into the end zone and I got to do my celebration," Jackson said. "Then I saw the flag."

Jackson's highlight-reel return was called back due to a holding penalty.

It was that kind of night for the Ravens special teams unit. It took two steps forward, but one step back.

A step forward came when receiver/returner Deonte Thompson nearly broke a kickoff return for a touchdown, but barely stepped out of bounds. Then the unit went backwards again when the punt team missed an assignment, allowing Detroit to block a Sam Koch punt.

Regardless, Jackson and Thompson's returns are on tape for coaches to remember, and proof that the Ravens have more returners than just wide receiver Jacoby Jones.

"I was really happy that I was at least able to get that on film, even though it didn't count," Jackson said.

Jackson fielded a third-quarter punt at the Ravens 15-yard line and weaved to the left. He broke through a couple arm tackles, but it looked like he was going to be caught from behind at about the Lions 25-yard line.

Jackson cut back and danced to his right, eluding two Lions players that crashed into each other. He turned on the burners as he raced to the corner of the end zone. But behind him, rookie free agent linebacker Nigel Carr was called for holding.

The Ravens took Jackson in the fifth round partly because of his return abilities. The Cal-Poly prospect scored three touchdowns on returns in college.

"I told you guys when I got here that I pride myself on being a big-play guy," Jackson said to reporters. "If you put the ball in my hands, I showed that I can do that. It may not be every single game, but that's always going to be the goal."

Jackson feels that special teams is his avenue to making the 53-man roster. It also may be the road for Thompson, even though he has also stood out in a crowded battle at wide receiver. Thompson helped separate himself with his kick return at the end of the first half.

Thompson fielded the kickoff seven yards deep in the end zone and shook off one Lions defender before bursting up the right sideline. The Florida product, who says he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.2 seconds, showed off his wheels.

He exploded around the corner, but barely stepped out of bounds at the Baltimore 48-yard line on his way to the end zone. On top of being called out of bounds, which replays confirmed, the play was brought back on a holding penalty by outside linebacker Sergio Kindle.

"I saw the crease and I told coach I was going to hit it with all I've got," Thompson said. "It made me feel wonderful. Just letting the coaches see that I could do things other than catching the football. I can play on multiple special teams and things like that."

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