An ugly 31-17 loss to the St. Louis Rams told me only that the Ravens would be in serious trouble if they lost all their players and were forced to compete against the other team’s starters.
Not exactly going out on a limb, am I?
It wasn’t a pretty sight collectively, but several players improved their roster stock while others did little to help their case as general manager Ozzie Newsome, coach John Harbaugh, and the rest of the staff meet to determine who will be part of the 53-man roster for the regular seasosn. The Ravens must trim the roster to 53 by the 9 p.m. deadline on Friday.
The organization is cognizant of the number of players at each position, but 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 final projection includes one new player making the final 53-man roster in comparison to last weekend’s projection as I shifted the depth on the offensive line. For the most part, players on the bubble that I felt good about confirmed in the preseason finale the things I’ve been seeing while players on the unfavorable side of the bubble weren’t able to change my mind Thursday night.
For the sake of full disclosure, running back Anthony Allen, defensive end DeAngelo Tyson, safety Omar Brown, cornerback Chykie Brown, and linebackers Sergio Kindle and Nigel Carr were the final six bubble players fighting for the last two spots on the projected roster.
The numbers in parentheses indicate the number of players that made the cut at that position.
IN: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
OUT: Curtis Painter
Skinny: The Ravens haven’t kept a third quarterback on the 53-man roster since 2009, and I predict the trend to continue this year. Painter played as well as you could reasonably expect, but there are too many needs elsewhere to award him a roster spot.
RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (4)
LOCK: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, Bobby Rainey, Vonta Leach
OUT: Anthony Allen, Damien Berry
Skinny: Pierce is showing no lingering effects of the hamstring injury and offered more glimpses Thursday night of why the Ravens thought highly enough of him to select him in the third round. Rainey had a drop that led to a Painter interception returned for a touchdown, but he’s shown more than enough to warrant a spot as the third running back. Allen played his best game of the preseason in St. Louis, but it wasn’t enough to make up for a disappointing summer.
WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
IN: Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, LaQuan Williams, Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson
OUT: Tommy Streeter, Logan Payne, Dorian Graham
PUP LIST: David Reed (will begin the season on the physically unable to perform list and not count against the 53-man roster)
Skinny: Thompson was already close to being a lock entering Thursday night and he removed any lingering doubts by catching six passes for 68 yards and an 11-yard touchdown from Painter. With Streeter still dealing with the foot injury, it appears almost certain that the 6-foot-5 rookie lands on injured reserve.
TIGHT ENDS (3)
IN: Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta, Billy Bajema
OUT: Matt Balasavage, Bruce Figgins
Skinny: Bajema caught a 7-yard touchdown from Painter to finish off a solid preseason as he helped bridge the gap at the tight end position with Dickson and Pitta both sidelined with injuries for most of the summer. It’s possible the Ravens could explore what other veteran options might shake free, but Bajema seems to be a solid receiver and brings good blocking skills to the table.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)
IN: Matt Birk, Marshal Yanda, Bobbie Williams, Michael Oher, Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, Jah Reid, Tony Wragge
OUT: Ramon Harewood, Justin Boren, Jack Cornell, Antoine McClain, Cord Howard
Skinny: Harewood started at left guard against St. Louis, which tells me the Ravens weren’t looking at him to be a reserve tackle on the 53-man roster as I suspected. With Boren scheduled to undergo an MRI on his injured ankle, it opens the door for the veteran Wragge to grab a roster spot. Wragge can play all three interior line positions, which might allow Osemele to shift his focus back to the tackle position. Boren and Cornell would be ideal fits for the practice squad. The prognosis for Reid’s injured calf will factor heavily in what the Ravens decide to do with this group.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6)