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Ravens rookie Justice Hill standing out in crowded backfield: ‘He really made some runs, didn’t he?’

Justice Hill almost lost the ball on his first NFL touchdown, which he scored in the Ravens’ 26-13 win over the visiting Green Bay Packers on Thursday night.

“I actually let go of it,” Hill said. “Mark Ingram went down there and got it for me.”

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Hill, who led the Ravens in rushing yards for the second preseason game in a row, had to fight for the one yard he needed to record that touchdown.

With Green Bay Packers linebacker Ty Summers at his back and Ravens fullback Christopher Ezeala dragging him from the front, Hill stumbled the last yard into the end zone for the Ravens’ second touchdown of the night, giving them a 20-6 lead.

Hill also contributed two long first-down runs, one for a 10-yard gain and the other for 14 yards.

“He really made some runs, didn’t he?” coach John Harbaugh said.

Hill demonstrated his elusiveness when quarterback Trace McSorley handed him the ball on second-and-7 in the third quarter. After tucking the ball in, he dodged the linebacker on his right, evaded the other on his left, then threw off the safeties in front of him with a dancing hesitation move before plowing through them for a 14-yard gain.

“It’s always good when you get some green grass and get your knees up a little bit,” Hill said.

Hill attributed his 10 carries for 49 yards Thursday to the offensive line. He said they opened holes for him with their blocking, and “I was able to hit those and do what I do.” His 4.9 yards per carry were an improvement from his 3.3-yard average against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first preseason game, in which he rushed for 33 yards on 10 carries.

Although Hill didn’t factor into the receiving game like he did against the Jaguars, he showed off his versatility with his performance against the Packers.

“He had some tough runs,” Harbaugh said. “He had some speed runs, too, where he accelerated, but man, he had some tough runs along the goal line.”

The fourth-round draft pick seems to have adjusted to the next level quickly, although he said the NFL is definitely faster than what he’s used to in college. He expected that, though, because it’s an adjustment that has to be made after every transition, Hill said.

Hill, who played three seasons at Oklahoma State, made the adjustment from high school to college quickly. After starting his freshman season as the second-string running back, he earned the starting position by the beginning of Big 12 play. He finished the year as the nation’s leading freshman rusher with 1,142 yards.

Hill is currently listed next to Tyler Ervin and Kenneth Dixon at the bottom of the Ravens’ depth chart behind Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards and De’Lance Turner. Ingram is the projected starter.

While Hill was the rushing leader, Turner’s 22-yard run was the longest run for the Ravens and his 5.8-yard average led the running backs.

But Hill is the only rookie among them, and he knows he still has improvements to make.

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“I’ve just got to get a little faster, too,” Hill said. “Just got to keep working.”

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