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(Editor’s Note: This projection was completed before roster moves were announced on Sunday morning.)
As the Ravens suffered their first loss of the preseason in a 34-27 final against the Carolina Panthers, there have been some clear changes to the roster picture from last weekend’s projection.
The Ravens sent disappointing fourth-year receiver David Reed to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for running back Delone Carter, which shakes up what was already a tight battle at running back between Anthony Allen and Bobby Rainey for the No. 3 spot behind Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. The emergence of Marlon Brown has also altered the landscape of the wide receiver position after the rookie free agent caught four passes for 59 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown thrown by quarterback Joe Flacco.
My current look at the roster suggests 43 healthy players are locks if the deadline to trim the roster to 53 took place today. My rough assessment of the 89 players on the roster lists 21 players on the bubble with at least some decent chance of making the final roster. 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, 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. The Ravens will always look carefully at players’ special-teams abilities in addition to what they bring to their specific positional group.
The Ravens must trim the roster from the current 89 players to 75 by 4 p.m. on Tuesday and must go down to the regular-season number of 53 by next Saturday.
The numbers in parentheses indicate the total number of players currently on the roster at that given position. Bubble players’ names that are underlined are currently on my projected 53-man roster as of Aug. 24. Players listed as injured or suspended are not projected to count against the 53-man roster when final cuts are made.
LOCK: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
BUBBLE: Caleb Hanie
LONG SHOT: None
Skinny: With Taylor exiting Thursday’s game early to be evaluated for a possible concussion, we will wait for an update on his status for the short-term future. This temporarily puts Hanie back in the roster conversation, but the Ravens figure to only carry two quarterbacks once Taylor is healthy again.
RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (8)
LOCK: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, Vonta Leach, Kyle Juszczyk
BUBBLE: Anthony Allen, Delone Carter, Bobby Rainey
LONG SHOT: Damien Berry
Skinny: Until we see what Carter can offer in terms of special-teams play, Allen remains the third running back for now but is on very shaky footing. Rainey might be the popular pick among fans, but can the Ravens really afford to keep him on the 53-man roster to essentially be a backup return man with limited ability in other special-teams phases?
WIDE RECEIVERS (11)
LOCK: Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Brandon Stokley
BUBBLE: Marlon Brown, Aaron Mellette, Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson, LaQuan Williams
LONG SHOT: Tommy Streeter, Rashaad Carter, Gerrard Sheppard
Skinny: Doss now finds himself on the bubble after another disappointing preseason performance, but he’s the only other healthy slot receiver behind the veteran Stokley on the current roster. The Ravens are in a bind with the injured Thompson in determining how soon he can return to action and whether they’re confident that he can be a real contributor. Williams is a good special-teams player, but he hasn’t done much to build on his strong showing in the preseason opener.
TIGHT ENDS (7)
LOCK: Ed Dickson
BUBBLE: Dallas Clark, Visanthe Shiancoe, Matt Furstenburg, Billy Bajema
LONG SHOT: Alex Silvestro
INJURED: Dennis Pitta (will eventually be placed on injured reserve with a chance that he’ll receive the designation to return)
Skinny: Shiancoe helped himself with a strong performance in the third preseason game and the Ravens’ use of Juszczyk and a tackle-eligible Wagner as blocking tight ends in certain situations might allow them to get away with the third tight end not being a strong blocker. Much hinges on Dickson’s status and it’s appearing more likely that Furstenburg is a practice-squad candidate.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (17)
LOCK: Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, A.Q. Shipley, Jah Reid, Rick Wagner
BUBBLE: Ramon Harewood
LONG SHOT: Jack Cornell, Antoine McClain, Jordan Devey, Rogers Gaines, David Mims, J.J. Unga, Reggie Stephens
INJURED: Ryan Jensen (will likely be placed on injured reserve after suffering a broken foot in the first week of camp)
Skinny: Harewood’s future on the 53-man roster appears to be totally dependent on the numbers game, so he’ll want to play well in the preseason finale to put an exclamation point on his case when Harbaugh and Newsome are making final roster decisions.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)