With mandatory minicamp behind them and training camp just over a month away, the Ravens turn their attention toward the preseason and eventually trimming the off-season roster down to 53 by the start of the regular season.
Only so much should be taken away from voluntary organized team activities and three mandatory practices — conducted without any contact, mind you — but my early look at the roster suggests as many as 42 players would be considered locks if the deadline to trim the roster took place in late June. My rough assessment of the 88 players currently on the roster — per the team’s official site — lists 27 players on the bubble. Not all bubble players are on equal footing, with certain positions lacking quality depth and others enjoying an abundance of talent.
Though general manager Ozzie Newsome, coach John Harbaugh, and the remainder of the coaching staff and front office are cognizant of the number of players at each position, trying to pinpoint a specific number of wide receivers or linebackers isn’t the most accurate way of projecting the roster. Especially with the increased emphasis on boosting the lackluster special teams from a season ago, the Ravens will look carefully at players’ other abilities in addition to what they bring to their specific positional group.
Of course, this breakdown could change as early as the first day of training camp if certain individuals report to Owings Mills in poor physical condition or have not done the necessary mental preparation for the preseason.
The numbers in parentheses indicate the total number of players currently on the roster at that given position.
LOCK: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
BUBBLE: Curtis Painter
LONG SHOT: John Brantley, Chester Stewart
Skinny: Painter brings experience and gives the Ravens more flexibility in using Taylor’s athleticism in Cam Cameron’s offense. However, the Ravens haven’t shied away from carrying just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster in recent years, so the former Indianapolis quarterback is far from a lock.
RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (6)
LOCK: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, Vonta Leach
BUBBLE: Anthony Allen, Damien Berry
LONG SHOT: Bobby Rainey
Skinny: Allen has the edge as the third running back, but the Ravens thought highly enough of Berry to keep him on the practice squad last season, making him one to watch during the preseason. Allen and Berry are both in better shape than they were last season.
WIDE RECEIVERS (11)
LOCK: Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones
BUBBLE: LaQuan Williams, Tandon Doss, Tommy Streeter, Deonte Thompson, David Reed (PUP candidate)
LONG SHOT: Dorian Graham, Patrick Williams, Devin Goda
Skinny: Depending on how the numbers work out elsewhere, there may only be two spots available for the five bubble players listed, with special teams playing a large role in the decision. LaQuan Williams stood out during minicamp while Thompson has turned some heads as an undrafted free agent from the University of Florida.
TIGHT ENDS (5)
LOCK: Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta
BUBBLE: Davon Drew, Bruce Figgins, Matt Balasavage
Skinny: The Ravens figure to carry three tight ends again after electing not to bring back veteran Kris Wilson. Drew is the most recognizable name among the three candidates for the No. 3 job, but he’s never established himself despite being a fifth-round pick in 2009.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (17)
LOCK: Matt Birk, Marshal Yanda, Bobbie Williams, Michael Oher, Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, Jah Reid
BUBBLE: Tony Wragge, Justin Boren, Ramon Harewood
LONG SHOT: Jack Cornell, Cecil Newton, Antoine McClain, Howard Barbieri, Addison Lawrence, Paul Madsen
Skinny: I’m not buying the idea that McKinnie’s roster spot is in jeopardy despite plenty of speculation suggesting otherwise. With eight players considered locks, there may only be one spot up for grabs – and that’s not even a certainty – for the rest of the pack.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (11)