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With the preseason opener against Tampa Bay in the rear-view mirror, I take a look at the Ravens’ potential 53-man roster for the first time since the end of mandatory minicamp in mid-June.
My current look at the roster suggests 42 healthy players are locks if the deadline to trim the roster to 53 took place today. My rough assessment of the 90 players currently on the roster lists 23 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. The Ravens will 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 90 players to 75 on Aug. 27 and will go down to the regular-season number of 53 on Aug. 31.
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. 9. Players listed as injured or suspended are not projected to count against the 53-man roster when final cuts are made on Aug. 31.
LOCK: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
LONG SHOT: Caleb Hanie
Skinny: Any lingering doubt over Taylor’s status as the backup should have been removed after the third-year quarterback’s strong performance Thursday night. Hanie hasn’t shown enough in practices to make a strong case that he’s deserving of a roster spot with the Ravens having not carried a third quarterback since on the 53-man roster since the 2009 season.
RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (7)
LOCK: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, Vonta Leach, Kyle Juszczyk
BUBBLE: Anthony Allen, Bobby Rainey
LONG SHOT: Damien Berry
Skinny: As he did last summer, Rainey once again shined in a preseason game with 114 all-purpose yards against Tampa Bay, but the Ravens already have Pro Bowl return specialist Jacoby Jones and Allen is a well-rounded special-teams player who thrives on several units, making him a better bet to make the roster at this point.
WIDE RECEIVERS (12)
LOCK: Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompon
BUBBLE: LaQuan Williams, David Reed, Aaron Mellette, Marlon Brown, Tommy Streeter
LONG SHOT: Rashaad Carter, Marcus Rivers, Gerrard Sheppard
Skinny: Williams’ ability on special teams and performance Thursday likely improved his standing, but this remains a very fluid group in terms of roster candidates. Special-teams ability will loom large for the future of receivers on the bubble. This group could change as much as any over the next month if the Ravens add an established veteran.
TIGHT ENDS (6)
LOCK: Ed Dickson, Visanthe Shiancoe
BUBBLE: Matt Furstenburg, Billy Bajema
LONG SHOT: Alex Silvestro
INJURED: Dennis Pitta (will eventually be placed on injured reserve with a extremely small chance that he’ll receive the designation to return)
Skinny: The veteran Bajema is ahead of Furstenburg on the depth chart for now, but the Maryland product is likely to get the nod if he can prove to be a capable blocker. His 24-yard reception on a seam route down the middle had to be pleasing to a coaching staff looking for another tight end to emerge after the season-ending injury to Pitta.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (17)
LOCK: Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, A.Q. Shipley, Jah Reid
BUBBLE: Ramon Harewood, Rick Wagner
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: The Ravens may not keep nine offensive linemen on their regular-season roster, but it would be difficult envisioning any of those players shaking loose. Jensen’s broken foot will likely land him on season-ending IR and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Wagner in a similar position if he were to suffer an injury at some point over the next month.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)