With the “dress rehearsal” of the preseason now in the books for the Ravens, it’s time to take another look at projecting the 53-man roster for the first time since the aftermath of the first preseason game.
My current look at the roster suggests 42 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 21 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.
The latest projection includes six new players making the final 53-man roster with one spot opening up due to Emanuel Cook’s season-ending injury and five others previously projected to make the roster now finding themselves on the outside looking in.
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 by 4 p.m. on Monday and will go down to the regular-season number of 53 by the 9 p.m. deadline on Friday.
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. 25.
LOCK: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
BUBBLE: Curtis Painter
LONG SHOT: Chester Stewart
Skinny: Taylor’s strong performance against Jacksonville quieted any silly notions that Painter was pushing him for the backup job. That was never the case, but the second-year quarterback looked more comfortable in the pocket after two uneven performances.
RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (6)
LOCK: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, Vonta Leach
BUBBLE: Bobby Rainey, Anthony Allen
LONG SHOT: Damien Berry
Skinny: Pierce has shown enough to quell concerns about the backup running back job, but the Ravens could still be looking for a short-yardage back since Allen has been such a disappointment this preseason. Rainey has surpassed Allen for a roster spot after receiving work with the starting unit while the 2011 seventh-round pick didn’t even receive a carry against Jacksonville.
WIDE RECEIVERS (12)
LOCK: Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, LaQuan Williams, Tandon Doss
BUBBLE: Deonte Thompson, Tommy Streeter
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: Considering Streeter didn’t receive any action until late in the second half, it’s clear he’s lagging behind Thompson in the race for the sixth spot — assuming there is a sixth one — on the final roster. It wouldn’t surprise me if Streeter’s foot injury lands him on injured reserve at this point, but his chances of making the team are remote.
TIGHT ENDS (6)
LOCK: Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta
BUBBLE: Billy Bajema, Matt Balasavage
LONG SHOT: Bruce Figgins, Davon Drew
Skinny: The veteran Bajema is in line for the third tight end job while the rookie free agent Balasavage has moved past Drew in the race for a spot. Though Balasavage has shown some skill as a receiver, Bajema’s ability to block helps his cause for the job.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (16)
LOCK: Matt Birk, Marshal Yanda, Bobbie Williams, Michael Oher, Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, Jah Reid
BUBBLE: Ramon Harewood, Justin Boren, Tony Wragge
LONG SHOT: Jack Cornell, Cecil Newton, Antoine McClain, Addison Lawrence, Cord Howard
Skinny: With Reid still dealing with the calf injury and Osemele now receiving more extensive work at guard, Harewood could grab a roster spot instead of Boren to boost the Ravens’ depth at offensive tackle. However, he might only be a short-term option until Reid recovers and the Ravens can devote the roster spot elsewhere.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (11)