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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens need to trim their roster to the regular-season limit of 53 by Saturday and began their work with multiple cuts including the departures of running back Anthony Allen and rookie cornerback Marc Anthony on Friday.
The team also waived quarterbacks Caleb Hanie and Dayne Crist, running back Delone Carter, tight end Alex Silvestro, linebackers Nigel Carr and Brandon Copeland, offensive tackles Jordan Devey and Rogers Gaines, center Reggie Stephens. As expected, linebacker D.J. Bryant (knee) was placed on season-ending injured reserve after suffering a serious injury in the preseason finale against St. Louis.
These moves brought the roster down to 63 players with more moves coming by Saturday’s 6 p.m. deadline. The Ravens currently have two IR candidates on their active roster in tight end Dennis Pitta and offensive lineman Ryan Jensen while defensive backs Asa Jackson and Christian Thompson will each be placed on the reserve-suspended list, meaning they won’t count against the 53-man roster. However, the Ravens are likely to give Pitta the designation to return, meaning he would need to be on the active roster until Tuesday while the Ravens carry only 52 healthy players in the meantime.
“We want to make [this team] as good as we possibly can in every way we can,” Harbaugh said. “It’s a long season, so the improvements that will be made between Week 1 and Week 16 will be dramatic, we hope.”
Allen was a standout special-teams player for last season’s Super Bowl XLVII team. He was initially let go on the final day of cuts last season before being re-signed in time for the season opener and served an important role on special teams, specifically as a lead blocker for Pro Bowl return specialist Jacoby Jones on the kickoff return team.
He was originally a seventh-round selection in the 2011 draft.
The decision to part ways with both Allen and Carter, who was acquired from Indianapolis in the David Reed trade last week, likely paves the way for preseason standout Bobby Rainey to make the roster as the No. 3 running back. He scored two touchdowns in Thursday’s 24-21 loss to the Rams.
With much attention being paid to the wide receiver and tight end positions, the Ravens did not cut any of the eight receivers on their 75-man roster Friday while Silvestro was the only tight end to be let go. Harbaugh was complimentary of rookie wideouts Marlon Brown and Aaron Mellette — indicating each “looks good” in terms of their 53-man roster standing — and didn’t dismiss the possibility of even keeping all eight.
“You look at that position and people considered it a weakness of ours. There is a lot of depth there,” Harbaugh said. “Who becomes the stars that everybody talks about in terms of being a strong wide receiver group remains to be seen. But all of those guys are going to be really good players in the National Football League, and just because they aren’t household names now doesn’t mean they won’t be soon.”
The Ravens also surprisingly parted ways with one of their 2013 draft picks by waiving the seventh-round choice Anthony, the rookie confirmed in a text message. This decision leaves the projected roster with only four cornerbacks when remembering that Asa Jackson will be suspended for the first eight games of the regular season.
Anthony was the team’s first draft pick to be let go in the year he was selected since fifth-round tight end Davon Drew and sixth-round running back Cedric Peerman were waived at the end of the 2009 preseason.
It would appear the Ravens will at least explore the possibility of adding another cornerback once final cuts are made around the league, and they’ve remained in contact with veteran cornerback Chris Johnson releasing him earlier this month.
“It’s always possible,” said Harbaugh, who acknowledged that free safety Michael Huff could play cornerback in a game-day pinch. “I don’t know if a corner of that caliber is going to come available. It’s pretty hard to say that that’s going to happen, but we’ve got some flexibility.”
Though not unexpected, the departures of Hanie and Crist mean the Ravens are in line to carry just two quarterbacks on their regular-season roster for the fourth straight year. As he’s done in the past, general manager Ozzie Newsome will likely sign a third quarterback to the practice squad.