With the preseason opener in Atlanta now in the rear-view mirror, I take another look at projecting the Ravens’ 53-man roster for the first time since the end of mandatory minicamp in mid-June.
My current look at the roster suggests 41 players are locks — not including either of the two place kickers on the preseason roster — if the deadline to trim the roster to 53 took place today. My rough assessment of the 90 players currently on the roster lists 22 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.
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. 14.
LOCK: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
BUBBLE: Curtis Painter
LONG SHOT: Chester Stewart
Skinny: Taylor displays great athleticism but still leaves the pocket too early in many cases when he drops back to pass. Painter threw three touchdowns in the preseason opener, but much of that came against second- and third-team defenders. His roster spot will still depend on the Ravens’ other positional needs and whether they feel compelled to keep a third quarterback on the roster for the first time since 2009.
RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (6)
LOCK: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, Vonta Leach
BUBBLE: Anthony Allen, Bobby Rainey
LONG SHOT: Damien Berry
Skinny: A hamstring injury to Pierce and an ineffective performance from Allen in the preseason opener have led many to wonder if the Ravens need to sign a veteran backup. The diminutive Rainey shined in the second half of the first preseason game, but he still has plenty of work to do to keep himself in the conversation for a roster spot.
WIDE RECEIVERS (12)
LOCK: Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, LaQuan Williams
BUBBLE: Tandon Doss, Tommy Streeter, Deonte Thompson
LONG SHOT: Logan Payne, Dorian Graham, Patrick Williams, Devin Goda
INJURED: David Reed (will begin season on physically unable to perform list and not count against the 53-man roster)
Skinny: Depending on how the numbers work out elsewhere, there will only be one or two spots available for the three bubble players listed, with special teams playing a large role in the decision. The speedy Thompson has impressed and Streeter’s combination of size and speed makes it difficult to assume he’d clear waivers and be signed to the practice squad. Meanwhile, Doss’ inability to stay healthy has placed him squarely on the bubble as fellow second-year wideout Williams has a strong grip on the No. 4 receiver spot.
TIGHT ENDS (6)
LOCK: Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta
BUBBLE: Billy Bajema, Davon Drew
LONG SHOT: Bruce Figgins, Matt Balasavage
Skinny: The Ravens clearly have depth concerns with both Dickson and Pitta likely sidelined for the rest of the preseason with injuries. The eight-year veteran Bajema has the edge over Drew because of his ability to block and catch passes while the 2009 fifth-round pick remains too inconsistent.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (16)
LOCK: Matt Birk, Marshal Yanda, Bobbie Williams, Michael Oher, Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, Jah Reid
BUBBLE: Justin Boren, Ramon Harewood, Tony Wragge
LONG SHOT: Jack Cornell, Cecil Newton, Antoine McClain, Addison Lawrence, Cord Howard
Skinny: While it still remains up in the air how the starting line will actually look, the Ravens are relatively set with their first eight offensive line spots on the roster. Whether they choose to carry a ninth remains to be seen, but Wragge would provide a veteran backup on the interior while Boren and Harewood have been organizational guys in which the Ravens have invested time.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (11)