Sizing up the Ravens’ final 53 before cut day

September 02, 2011 | Luke Jones

With the Ravens needing to pare down from 80 players to a 53-man roster for the start of the regular season, John Harbaugh and the coaching staff will make their final decisions by 6 p.m. on Saturday.

The Ravens will almost certainly add a veteran quarterback to back up Joe Flacco and wouldn’t mind adding another interior offensive lineman with Matt Birk’s status for the start of the season still up in the air. However, those moves likely won’t come until after Saturday when a number of options around the league will hit the open market.

As a result, my roster projection reflects decisions based solely on players currently with the Ravens. The roster we’ll see against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 11 will look different — even if I nail all 53 projected spots by some act of God — than what you’ll find below. The projection also reflects Friday’s news of receiver/kick returner David Reed being suspended Week 1 for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Suspended players do not count against the 53-man roster, allowing the Ravens to keep another player for the regular-season opener.

Therefore, the mock roster below contains a total of 54 players.

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QUARTERBACKS (2)
Joe Flacco
Tyrod Taylor

Skinny: Taylor’s left shoulder injury suffered in the final preseason game only accelerated the certainty of the Ravens adding a veteran backup.

RUNNING BACKS (5)
Ray Rice
Vonta Leach
Ricky Williams
Anthony Allen
Jalen Parmele* (54th player kept due to Reed’s suspension)

Skinny: Allen showed enough in the preseason to supplant Parmele, whose role diminished with the emergence of Reed as a kick returner last season. However, Reed’s suspension may coax the Ravens into keeping Parmele around for the opener.

WIDE RECEIVERS (7)
Anquan Boldin
Lee Evans
Torrey Smith
Tandon Doss
LaQuan Williams
Marcus Smith
David Reed* (suspended Week 1 for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy)

Skinny: Williams and Smith were among my final four players kept on the roster. The rookie punt returner shows more upside as a receiver down the road, but Smith’s special teams contributions cannot be overlooked. Either could be vulnerable if the Ravens explore options outside the organization.

TIGHT ENDS (3)
Ed Dickson
Dennis Pitta
Kris Wilson

Skinny: Third-year player Davon Drew disappeared after a solid start in training camp, and the eight-year veteran Wilson led Baltimore in receiving during the preseason.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)
Bryant McKinnie
Ben Grubbs
Matt Birk
Marshal Yanda
Michael Oher
Jah Reid
Mark LeVoir
Bryan Mattison
Justin Boren

Skinny: Boren was my final player selected, but his roster spot likely disappears as soon as the Ravens bring in another quarterback or a veteran lineman. Boren is an excellent candidate for the practice squad.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)
Haloti Ngata
Terrence Cody
Cory Redding
Arthur Jones
Pernell McPhee
Brandon McKinney

Skinny: Lamar Divens was ultimately be squeezed out due to the versatility of Arthur Jones to slide inside if needed. The 340-pounded only played in two games last season.

LINEBACKERS (10)
Ray Lewis
Terrell Suggs
Jarret Johnson
Jameel McClain
Brendon Ayanbadejo
Dannell Ellerbe
Sergio Kindle
Paul Kruger
Prescott Burgess
Tavares Gooden

Skinny: Burgess and Gooden are far from safe, but both are strong special teams contributors. The former also backs up the strong-side linebacker position, where the Ravens don’t have a great deal of depth in an otherwise deep group of linebackers. Gooden was among my final four players kept on the 53-man roster. Albert McClellan and rookie Josh Bynes could be options for the practice squad.

CORNERBACKS (5)
Domonique Foxworth
Jimmy Smith
Cary Williams
Chris Carr
Lardarius Webb

Skinny: Rookie Chykie Brown is the main victim in a deep group of corners, but the Ravens will desperately try to keep him around on the practice squad.

SAFETIES (4)
Ed Reed
Bernard Pollard
Tom Zbikowski
Haruki Nakamura

Skinny: No surprises here. Rookie Mana Silva showed potential during training camp and may be a realistic candidate for the practice squad.

SPECIALISTS (3)
Billy Cundiff
Sam Koch
Morgan Cox

Skinny: Long snapper Patrick Scales performed admirably during the summer and deserves an opportunity somewhere. It just won’t be in Baltimore with Cox healthy again.

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