Ravens take practice field for last time before final cuts

September 02, 2011 | Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As the Ravens closed the book on their 3-1 preseason in Atlanta on Thursday night, many on the current 80-man roster took the field in Owings Mills on Friday afternoon for the last time.

Facing a deadline to trim the team down to 53 players by 6 p.m. on Saturday, coach John Harbaugh shifts his attention to the Pittsburgh Steelers with a final look at the 27 players — or more, depending on other potential moves — who won’t be deemed good enough to take the turf at M&T Bank Stadium on Sept. 11.

“You are excited to finalize your roster,” Harbaugh said. “You are excited to say this is going to be our team. This is how we’re going to move forward, but that’s going to not include some guys, and that’s the toughest thing.”

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Among those decisions will be a number of players with promising upside, but may prove too raw to take up a 53-man roster spot. Second-year offensive tackle Ramon Harewood is the quintessential example after being drafted in the sixth round from Morehouse in 2010. Spending last season on injured reserve, Harewood’s return to the practice field was delayed this summer as he continued to work his way back from surgeries on both knees, and the 340-pounder struggled when given opportunities during preseason games.

For players such as Harewood and newcomer Michael McAdoo (who went unselected in the supplemental draft before being signed last week), the Baltimore front office must weigh the risk of potentially losing them to other teams against the value of a green player using a spot on the regular roster.

“You try to figure out who’s got a chance to maybe get picked up by somebody and who has less chance of doing that,” Harbaugh said. “But the whole league’s the same. [Teams] need people who are ready to play. You can’t just be bringing guys in and putting them on as developmental projects. You only get 53 guys.”

Once the Ravens have established their regular-season roster on Saturday, all attention shifts to the regular season, with only nine days remaining until the Steelers visit to kick off the regular season. And with that, the intensity level grows and the stakes become much higher for a team expecting to play well into January — and maybe even later.

The fact that Baltimore’s biggest rival stands at the beginning of that journey only adds spice to an exciting time of the year.

“The fact that it’s Pittsburgh adds to it, but it would be that way no matter what,” Harbaugh said. “It’s the regular season. It’s for real now; they count. The tenured guys, this is the week that these guys wait for and that they look forward to.”

NOTES: Harbaugh offered no new information regarding the status of rookie quarterback Tyrod Taylor after sharing the belief that the injury isn’t considered serious following the Atlanta game. “It doesn’t seem to be a real serious thing. I’m sure he’s got some soreness in there. I think he’s going to be OK.” … Players will be off on Saturday and Sunday before being made available to the media on Monday evening.

To hear more from John Harbaugh, visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault right here.

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