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Asa Jackson has uneven night in bid to secure return job

“They just gave me a crease, and I tried to hit it and let my instinct take over from there,” said Asa Jackson of his kick return that fell short of the end zone. “I probably should’ve stayed up the right sideline.” (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun)

The Ravens have been waiting for one of the candidates for their open return job to make a big play and Asa Jackson finally delivered during the 31-13 loss to the Washington Redskins Saturday night. Unfortunately for Jackson, he followed it up later in the game with an extremely poor decision.

Jackson's night included a 103-yard kickoff return, during which he was tripped up at the Redskins 2-yard line just before halftime, and a fourth-quarter fumble of a punt by Tress Way that the Ravens cornerback had no business fielding with a defender right on top of him. The Redskins recovered the ball on the Ravens' 32 and kicked a field goal four plays later.

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"Asa made a bad decision, and he knows that," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "You have to fair catch that. That kind of hang time, you have to fair catch it."

Jackson, who called the fumble inexcusable and promised that it wouldn't happen again, chalked up the error to trying to make a play late in the game.

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It was an unfortunate turn of events for Jackson, who had seemingly taken a significant step toward securing the primary return job with a kickoff return late in the second quarter. Jackson fielded the ball about five yards deep in the end zone and burst through a hole up the middle. He seemed to lose his balance around midfield but regained it before being tackled by Justin Rogers just short of the end zone.

"They were driving it deep, so I really didn't get a good read on the ball, but I was able to catch it, and we had been talking all week about the blocks," Jackson said. "The guys blocked so well on that play. I could see it setting up. They just gave me a crease, and I tried to hit it and let my instinct take over from there. I probably should've stayed up the right sideline, but I decided to cut it back and ended up getting caught at the end."

Jackson has been used as the Ravens' primary return man for the first three preseason games. However, Harbaugh, who is looking for a replacement for Jacoby Jones, was noncommittal when asked whether Jackson would be the guy. At this point, nobody has really challenged Jackson, as Michael Campanaro has been sidelined by injury and both Terrence Magee and DeAngelo Carter have bobbled kickoffs.

"I can't really handicap it," Harbaugh said when asked if Jackson is the favorite right now. "But, it was a nice play. He looked good on that one."

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