John Harbaugh not ready to give Ravens' returner job to Asa Jackson

BALTIMORE -- Asa Jackson produced one of the biggest highlights of the Baltimore Ravens preseason Saturday night, when he broke a 103-yard kickoff return. Just when it looked like he tightened his grip on the returner job, he later couldn't hold onto a punt because he failed to signal fair catch and took a vicious hit.

After watching the mixed results, Ravens coach John Harbaugh wasn't definitive when asked if Jackson had made his case to become the primary returner.

"I can’t really handicap it," Harbaugh said after the 31-13 loss to the Washington Redskins, "and I’m not sure."

The Ravens previously indicated they would like one player to return both punts and kicks, like Jacoby Jones did for the past three seasons. Jackson has been given first crack at both the last three games, which is either a sign of confidence or an indication of the competition.

Michael Campanaro has missed the previous two preseason games with a soft tissue injury, and undrafted rookie DeAndre Carter mishandled a couple of kickoffs. On Saturday, undrafted rookie Terrence Magee bobbled one of his two kickoff returns.

Asked about the competition, Jackson said, "That's not for me to decide. That's up to the coaches."

On his 103-yard return in the second quarter, Jackson fielded the ball five yards in his own end zone and showed no hesitancy in running it up the middle of the field. He had a clear lane because of blocks by Javorius Allen, 3043168, Zachary Orr, Kyle Arrington and Albert McClellan.

Jackson wasn't touched until midfield, which caused him to stumble, but he made it to the Redskins' 2-yard line before getting pulled down.

"The guys blocked so well on that play, and they just gave me a crease," Jackson said. "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."

That big play didn't stand out as much after Jackson's mistake in the fourth quarter. With two Redskins bearing down on him, Jackson tried to make a play and fumbled the punt after being hit.

"I should've taken a peek, [and] I didn't," Jackson said. "It's all on me. That's inexcusable, and I can't put my team in that position. It's not going to happen again, and I'm going to get better from this in the regular season."

Based on what Harbaugh said, the Ravens need to see more out of Jackson before they're ready to hand over the returner job to him. But, given what others have done in the return game, Baltimore has to either go with Jackson, one of their "aces in the hole" or look elsewhere after cuts are made.