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Ravens activate tight end Boyle, waive cornerback Jackson

Posted on 26 November 2016 by Luke Jones

Needing to boost their blocking ability at tight end, the Ravens activated 2015 fifth-round pick Nick Boyle and waived cornerback Asa Jackson ahead of Sunday’s game with the Cincinnati Bengals.

After serving a 10-game suspension for his second violation of the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy in the last year, Boyle returned to practice this week and will fill in for the injured Crockett Gillmore, who is expected to miss his fourth straight game with a thigh injury. Gillmore’s absence has left Baltimore without a true blocking tight end, leaving reserve lineman James Hurst to serve in that capacity periodically.

Boyle is expected to mainly serve as a blocker, but he showed good hands as a rookie, catching 18 passes for 153 yards in 11 games.

“He came back in really good shape — very impressive shape,” head coach John Harbaugh said Friday. “It looks like he’s been working really hard, but there is a process of knocking off the rust for sure. It’s been 10 weeks, 11 weeks since he’s been in a football practice.”

Just a few months ago, Boyle’s career with the Ravens appeared to be all but over as Benjamin Watson, Dennis Pitta, Maxx Williams, and Gillmore were all ahead of him on the preseason depth chart. However, season-ending injuries to Watson and Williams opened the door for both Boyle and Darren Waller — who served a four-game ban to begin the season after testing positive for marijuana — to have roles following their respective suspensions.

A third violation of the performance-enhancing drug policy would result in at least a two-year ban for Boyle. The University of Delaware product understands this is likely his last chance with the Ravens and could be his last to play in the NFL.

“I’m not going to mess up again. I’ll put that out there fair and clear,” Boyle said Wednesday. “It was a hard thing, and I thank them for allowing me to even come back here and allowing me to have a chance to maybe play here. I’m very grateful for that.”

Jackson, a 2012 fifth-round pick of the Ravens, was re-signed to the Baltimore practice squad last month and had also spent time with Cincinnati and Arizona over the last calendar year. The reserve defensive back was elevated to the 53-man roster on Nov. 15, but he was a healthy inactive for Sunday’s loss to Dallas.

Though cornerback Jimmy Smith is expected to miss his second straight game with a back issue, the healthy return of Shareece Wright from a hamstring injury last week made Jackson expendable.

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Dumervil, Yanda return while J. Smith misses practice for Ravens

Posted on 16 November 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Preparing for their toughest challenge of the 2016 season, the Ravens welcomed back some much-needed reinforcements to the practice field on Wednesday.

Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (foot) and right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) returned as full participants in practice as Baltimore gets ready for a Week 11 contest at Dallas. Dumervil last played against Washington on Oct. 9 while Yanda has missed three of the last four games.

Despite major concerns about the health of his left shoulder, Yanda is trying to push through the pain to help a struggling offensive line that lost starting left guard Alex Lewis to a high ankle sprain in Week 10. Prior to last month, Yanda hadn’t missed a game since the end of the 2012 regular season.

“I’m a team guy. If I can play at a high level and help the team, I’m going to be out there no matter what,” said Yanda, who has declined to discuss details of the injury. “It’s one of those things that I pride myself in, and I feel like I owe it to the team and the guys in the locker room to be out there if I can. If I’m not out there, yeah, it’s a tough deal. I try to never let it happen, but you can’t control things sometimes.”

Dumervil has appeared in just two games this season while dealing with a slow recovery from offseason foot surgery. His healthy return would be a major boost to an edge pass rush that’s relied too heavily on Terrell Suggs this season.

The Ravens are hoping the additional five weeks away from the field allowed Dumervil to recapture the explosiveness and strength he lacked playing against Oakland and Washington.

“He came back out here before and teased us a little bit. I guess he let us get to second base,” said Suggs as he laughed, referring to Dumervil’s brief return to action early last month. “He let us get to second base, but hopefully we get him out there [all the way].”

It remains to be seen whether Yanda or Dumervil will play against the Cowboys, but their full participation was certainly a good sign for the first-place Ravens.

The bad news on Wednesday was the absence of top cornerback Jimmy Smith, who was listed as dealing with a back issue. Head coach John Harbaugh expressed optimism about his status, which was good news since the Ravens need his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame to contest with Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant.

“I don’t anticipate it being a concern,” Harbaugh said. “He should be out there Sunday. I expect him to practice here this week.”

A day after promoting Asa Jackson to the 53-man roster, the Ravens also saw cornerback Shareece Wright (hamstring) return to practice after missing the last three games. Linebacker Kamalei Correa (thigh) also returned to practice for the first time since the bye week.

Tight end Crockett Gillmore remains sidelined with a thigh injury that surfaced during the bye.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys were without starting left tackle Tyron Smith (back/hip) and starting cornerback Morris Claiborne (groin). Injured in the Cowboys’ Week 8 win over Philadelphia, Claiborne is not expected to play against the Ravens.

Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: TE Crockett Gillmore (thigh), G Alex Lewis (ankle), CB Jimmy Smith (back)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB C.J. Mosley (thigh), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Kamalei Correa (thigh), LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), CB Shareece Wright (thigh), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)

DALLAS
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: S Barry Church (forearm), CB Morris Claiborne (groin), OT Tyron Smith (back/hip)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: OT Chaz Green (foot/back), DE DeMarcus Lawrence (back)
FULL PARTICIPATION: QB Tony Romo (back)

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Ravens promote cornerback Jackson to 53-man roster

Posted on 15 November 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens promoted cornerback Asa Jackson to the 53-man roster and placed rookie defensive tackle Willie Henry on injured reserve on Tuesday.

A 2012 fifth-round pick out of Cal Poly, Jackson was signed to the practice squad last month after spending the preseason with the Arizona Cardinals. The 5-foot-10, 183-pound defensive back will add depth to the secondary and could also factor into Baltimore’s plans for the return game.

Veteran return specialist Devin Hester has struggled to provide much of a spark and has fumbled four times in eight games this season. Those difficulties helped prompt the Ravens to re-sign Jackson and third-year wide receiver Michael Campanaro to the practice squad in recent weeks.

Jackson entered the 2015 preseason as the favorite to replace the departed Jacoby Jones as the Ravens’ return specialist, but issues with ball security led to him being cut at the end of the preseason. The 26-year-old has not logged a single kick or punt return in his five-year career, but he has shown explosiveness as a returner in preseason games.

In 18 career NFL games, Jackson has collected 30 tackles and three pass breakups.

Henry was inactive for all but one game this season and hadn’t appeared in a single game. The fourth-round pick from Michigan was not listed on the injury report at any point in recent weeks, making this an apparent IR stash for the future.

Despite plenty of pessimism regarding the status of veteran right guard Marshal Yanda and rookie left guard Alex Lewis, neither was placed on IR on Tuesday afternoon. Lewis is expected to miss at least six weeks with a high ankle sprain while Yanda is trying to play through a serious left shoulder injury that’s sidelined him for three of the last four games.

The Ravens also signed guard Jarrod Pughsley and tight end Austin Traylor to their practice squad and cut quarterback David Fales for the second time in the last week. The addition of Traylor could be a sign that Crockett Gillmore is not yet ready to return from a thigh injury as Baltimore has signed a tight end to the practice squad for a third consecutive week with only two healthy tight ends — Dennis Pitta and Darren Waller — on the active roster.

Earlier this month, tight ends Nic Jacobs and then Mitchell Henry were signed and released at the end of the practice week as they were merely used on scout teams during workouts.

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Nine Ravens players absent from practice on Wednesday

Posted on 19 October 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Already dealing with a litany of injuries, the Ravens added starting quarterback Joe Flacco to the list as they continued preparations for their Week 7 meeting with the New York Jets.

The 31-year-old signal-caller was absent from Wednesday’s practice as he deals with a right shoulder injury. He played all 83 snaps in Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the New York Giants, but the veteran appeared to be banged up in the post-game locker room after the game.

Flacco said he did not feel any discomfort during the game and only felt “a little something” in the post-game locker room on Sunday.

“We’re just going to see how the thing goes during the week,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He has a chance to play. I don’t know what the percentage is. No one gave me a percentage on it. I believe he has a legitimate chance to play.”

The Ravens were also without wide receivers Steve Smith (ankle) and Devin Hester (thigh), right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder), outside linebackers Terrell Suggs (biceps) and Elvis Dumervil (foot), inside linebacker C.J. Mosley (hamstring), and cornerbacks Shareece Wright (thigh) and Jerraud Powers (groin) on Wednesday.

Harbaugh said Monday that Suggs and Yanda are unlikely to play until after next week’s bye, but he didn’t rule out the former trying to play against the Jets if his arm were to improve.

“Last time he [tore his other biceps], he played the game after the first game,” Harbaugh said. “If he comes up and says he can play, then we’ll put him out there. He’s not a long-term deal, either.”

The good news for Baltimore was the presence of cornerback Jimmy Smith (concussion), who was practicing with a red non-contact vest over his jersey. His limited participation would mean he’s reached the penultimate step in the concussion protocol before being cleared to return to full action.

Wide receivers Mike Wallace (ribs) and Breshad Perriman were also practicing with red vests during the open portion of practice, but they were not listed on the injury report.

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) and right tackle Rick Wagner (thigh) were both present and working during practice, a good sign for their availability against the Jets. Stanley was a full participant in practice for the first time since Week 3 while Wagner wasn’t even listed on Wednesday’s report.

As expected, running back Lorenzo Taliaferro and cornerback Asa Jackson were both practicing. Taliaferro has begun his 21-day practice window after beginning the season on the physically unable to perform list while Jackson is currently on the practice squad and could be an option for depth with the current injuries in the secondary.

Meanwhile, the Jets officially named Geno Smith their starting quarterback for Sunday’s game with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick struggling mightily in the midst of a 1-5 start.

Left tackle Ryan Clady (shoulder), center Nick Mangold (knee), and defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle) were absent from Wednesday’s practice for New York.

Below is Wednesday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), QB Joe Flacco (right shoulder), RS Devin Hester (thigh), LB C.J. Mosley (thigh), CB Jerraud Powers (thigh), WR Steve Smith Sr. (ankle), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps), CB Shareece Wright (thigh), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Jimmy Smith (concussion)
FULL PARTICIPATION: OT Ronnie Stanley (foot)

NEW YORK
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: OL Ryan Clady (shoulder), LB Darron Lee (ankle), OL Nick Mangold (knee), OL Brent Qvale (neck), CB Buster Skrine (non-injury), DL Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: TE Braeden Bowman (knee), LB Bruce Carter (foot), RB Matt Forte (knee), LB David Harris (hamstring), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DT Steve McLendon (back), DB Darryl Roberts (shoulder), OL Brian Winters (knee)

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Ravens re-sign former 2012 draft pick to their practice squad

Posted on 18 October 2016 by Luke Jones

With an open spot and several injuries in the secondary, the Ravens re-signed cornerback and 2012 fifth-round pick Asa Jackson to their practice squad on Tuesday.

Jackson, 26, spent this offseason and summer with the Arizona Cardinals before being cut in the final week of the preseason. The weekend promotion of rookie linebacker Patrick Onwuasor to the 53-man roster created the opening on the Baltimore practice squad.

With cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (concussion) and Jerraud Powers (hamstring) both leaving Sunday’s game with injuries and Shareece Wright and Tavon Young also banged up in the 27-23 loss to the New York Giants, Jackson provides another potential option with knowledge of the defense and an ability to return kicks. In 18 career games over four seasons, Jackson has collected 30 tackles and three pass breakups.

The Cal Poly product entered the 2015 preseason as the favorite to be the Ravens’ return specialist, but issues with ball security led to his release before the start of that season. After a brief stint with the New York Giants, Jackson was re-signed to the practice squad and eventually promoted to the 53-man roster to appear in four games. An ankle injury led to the Ravens waiving him with an injury settlement last November.

In addition to the various stops over the last two years, Jackson has twice been suspended for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy over his five-year career.

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Harbaugh critical of Ross, Jackson for mistakes in Sunday’s loss

Posted on 16 November 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — On Monday, Ravens coach John Harbaugh dissected plenty that went wrong in the 22-20 loss to Jacksonville, but the criticism was particularly strong for special-teams players Jeremy Ross and Asa Jackson.

Ross’ fumbled punt early in the fourth quarter led to a go-ahead touchdown for Jacksonville and was the return specialist’s second lost fumble in the last three games. It was Baltimore’s fourth turnover of the second half after quarterback Joe Flacco threw two interceptions and fumbled in the third quarter.

“The muffed punt killed us. It was one of the four turnovers that shouldn’t happen,” said Harbaugh, who acknowledged that the Ravens will need to decide whether to replace Ross at punt returner. “It wasn’t an easy catch. The ball was moving from left to right and behind him, but it’s still a catch that you have to make in that situation for sure.”

Harbaugh’s words were even more critical for Jackson, who cost the Ravens a combined 30 yards in penalties on a low block in the first quarter and an unnecessary roughness foul in the third period. Jackson committed another unnecessary roughness penalty against Arizona in Week 7.

It’s clear the lack of discipline is wearing thin on the Baltimore coach after Jackson was already waived once at the end of the preseason for ball security issues in the return game.

“There’s no place for that,” Harbaugh said. “There’s absolutely no reason to leave your feet [on the first penalty]. I don’t care if you are slipping or not. You might be slipping, but if you are out of position to make the block, you don’t make that block, and you certainly don’t throw yourself back into a guy’s legs on a kickoff return. That’s blatantly illegal. And then blocking a guy after the ball is down and dead — that’s just foolish. That’s what we call a foolish penalty.

“For one guy to have three personal foul penalties in a season — in a career, let alone a season — let alone two in a game, is unacceptable.”

Webb at safety

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees revealed several new wrinkles after the bye week with the most interesting being cornerback Lardarius Webb lining up at safety for a number of plays in the nickel package.

Webb and starting free safety Kendrick Lewis swapped positions several times, often waiting until right before the snap in an effort to confuse Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles. The seventh-year defensive back also secured Baltimore’s first takeaway since Week 3 with a second-quarter interception while playing cornerback.

“We felt like he could be a factor in the back end, as far as chasing balls and being a ball hawk, and he may be kind of a natural that way,” Harbaugh said. “We tried him there on Tuesday and Wednesday of the bye week; he looked good.

“We built a couple packages for him, and we were able to play him at three different spots at least throughout the course of the game. They had a tougher time knowing where he was going to be, and I really think that’s something we can build on going forward.”

Arthur Brown sighting

All but forgotten as the Ravens’ 2013 second-round pick, inside linebacker Arthur Brown saw his first defensive snaps since the end of his rookie season on Sunday.

Brown was part of the nickel package for eight plays, but he did not register a defensive statistic. The Kansas State product was active for each of the first eight games of 2015 while only seeing action on special teams.

“He played fast and was excited to be out there,” Harbaugh said. “He ran to the ball, made a couple plays — nothing spectacular, but nothing that made you concerned, either. He had done a really good job in practice, and Arthur deserved a little more playing time. He did well with it.”

Urban could return this week

Starting his second week of practice, second-year defensive end Brent Urban is moving closer to making his NFL debut and could be activated in time to play St. Louis on Sunday.

“There’s a chance,” Harbaugh said. “It’s not something we’ve talked about yet, but I think physically — based on what I’ve seen physically — he’s ready to go. But again, we’ll talk about this week as we go.”

Urban was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return at the start of the season after suffering a torn biceps in early August.

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Webb, Lewis questionable for Monday night

Posted on 24 October 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens listed cornerback Lardarius Webb and free safety Kendrick Lewis as questionable for Monday night’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Webb was a limited participant in practices all week after missing last Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury. Meanwhile, Lewis practiced on Saturday after he had been sidelined all week due to a knee injury suffered against San Francisco.

Needless to say, the league’s 27th-ranked pass defense needs all the help it can get in terms of health as Arizona ranks seventh in the NFL in passing offense. Should Lewis not be able to play, the Ravens would likely turn to the combination of special-teams players Anthony Levine and Brynden Trawick to handle the starting spot next to Will Hill in the secondary.

The Ravens officially ruled out safety Terrence Brooks (thumb), tight end Maxx Williams (knee/ankle), and wide receiver Breshad Perriman for Monday night.

Despite missing Friday’s practice with the calf injury that has already cost him four games, defensive end Chris Canty is probable for Monday’s game after participating fully in Saturday’s practice.

The most notable development on Arizona’s injury report was the status of second-year wide receiver John Brown, who is questionable with a lingering hamstring issue. Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians expressed optimism about Brown’s availability for Monday night, but the speedy wideout is considered a game-time decision after suffering a setback earlier in the week that kept him out of Friday’s practice. Brown practiced on a limited basis on Saturday.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: S Terrence Brooks (thumb), WR Breshad Perriman (knee), TE Maxx Williams (knee, ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Asa Jackson (thigh), S Kendrick Lewis (knee), CB Lardarius Webb (thigh)
PROBABLE: DE Chris Canty (calf), LB Elvis Dumervil (non-injury), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury), WR Darren Waller (concussion), G Marshal Yanda (ankle)

ARIZONA
OUT: TE Darren Fells (shoulder), LB Alex Okafor (calf)
QUESTIONABLE: WR John Brown (hamstring)
PROBABLE: CB Justin Bethel (foot), WR Larry Fitzgerald (non-injury), WR Brittan Golden (groin), DT Cory Redding (shoulder), DT Frostee Rucker (foot), LB LaMarr Woodley (chest)

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Ravens cut Melvin, Babin to shake up roster

Posted on 13 October 2015 by Luke Jones

Dealing with immense struggles and injuries in their secondary, the Ravens shook up their 53-man roster with a series of movies on Tuesday afternoon.

In addition to announcing the signing of veteran cornerback Shareece Wright, the Ravens cut veteran outside linebacker Jason Babin and third-cornerback Rashaan Melvin and promoted cornerbacks Asa Jackson and Charles James from the practice squad to the active roster. Baltimore also placed injured cornerback Will Davis (knee) on injured reserve.

Signed to provide help to the pass rush following the season-ending Achilles injury to Terrell Suggs in the season opener, Babin was inactive for two weeks before making little impact in two games. Playing 22 snaps in Sunday’s overtime loss to Cleveland, the 35-year-old committed three penalties and showed no ability to shed a block trying to contain a screen pass on a third-and-8 play in the second quarter.

Babin’s termination leaves the Ravens with just two healthy outside linebackers — Courtney Upshaw and Za’Darius Smith — after Elvis Dumervil left Sunday’s game with a groin injury. Veteran inside linebacker Albert McClellan can also play outside and has done so this season.

The decision to waive Melvin was a little more surprising after coaches had sung his praises in the spring and summer. A series of injuries at cornerback late last season forced Melvin into a starting role, and he played admirably for a few games until being burned repeatedly by Tom Brady in the divisional-round playoff loss to New England.

Despite playing well early in the summer, the 6-foot-2 cornerback was slowed by a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the first two seeks of the regular season. Making his 2015 debut as Baltimore’s No. 3 cornerback in Week 3, Melvin committed three penalties and struggled mightily in coverage before being benched after 17 snaps.

He was inactive in each of the last two games.

With Lardarius Webb leaving Sunday’s loss with a hamstring injury and Davis suffering a torn ACL, the Ravens were once again thin at cornerback, but Jackson and James provide more depth to the group. A 2012 fifth-round pick, the 5-foot-10 Jackson was cut by the Ravens at the end of the preseason and spent a brief time with the New York Giants before landing on Baltimore’s practice squad.

James was most recently with the Houston Texans and received plenty of attention for his colorful personality on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series. The 5-foot-9 defensive back appeared in 12 games for the New York Giants in 2013, making four tackles.

To fill vacant spots on their practice squad, the Ravens signed wide receiver Daniel Brown, tight end Konrad Reuland, and running back Akeem Hunt. Brown and Reuland were with the Ravens in training camp and the preseason.

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Jackson, Tyson, Reid headline Ravens’ final cuts to 53-man limit

Posted on 05 September 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens parted ways with return specialist Asa Jackson to headline a list of 17 moves that trimmed their 2015 roster to the 53-man limit on Saturday.

The fourth-year cornerback led the NFL by averaging 49.0 yards per kickoff return in the preseason, but fumbles in each of the last two games quickly forced the Ravens to move in a different direction. The 2012 fifth-round pick also failed to establish himself in the secondary, leaving his roster standing too vulnerable.

Two other notable veterans cut on Saturday were offensive lineman Jah Reid and defensive end DeAngelo Tyson. Long considered a bust as a former third-round pick, Reid was signed to a one-year contract in the offseason and had been competing as a backup. Tyson, a 2012 seventh-round choice, served as a member of the defensive line rotation over the last three seasons, but the Ravens instead kept Kapron Lewis-Moore and Christo Bilukidi as reserves.

The Ravens cut rookie fifth-round guard Robert Myers, who struggled over the summer and became the highest Baltimore draft pick to be cut at the end of his first preseason since 2009 fifth-round tight end Davon Drew. Baltimore kept only three reserves — John Urschel, James Hurst, and Ryan Jensen — behind its starting offensive line.

Despite having only two healthy running backs on their initial 53-man roster, the Ravens cut both Fitz Toussaint and rookie free agent Terrence Magee on Saturday. With rookie fourth-rounder Buck Allen struggling in the preseason, the Ravens could explore adding a veteran reserve behind 2014 Pro Bowl selection Justin Forsett as Lorenzo Taliaferro continues to recover from a knee injury.

After much discussion about him being on the roster bubble, third-year inside linebacker Arthur Brown made the 53-man roster along with special-team standouts Albert McClellan and Zach Orr.

A day after waiving Daniel Brown and Tom Nelson, Baltimore cut second-year receiver Jeremy Butler. who was a standout performer during spring workouts before a quiet summer.

Butler, 24, spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. The 6-foot-2 Tennessee-Martin product likely remains a candidate for the practice squad, especially with rookie Breshad Perriman still recovering from a knee injury. The Ravens now have six receivers on the active roster: Perriman, Steve Smith, Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown, Michael Campanaro, and Darren Waller.

As expected, the Ravens kept defensive end Brent Urban on their initial 53-man roster, leaving him eligible to be placed on injured reserve with the designation to return after he suffered a torn biceps last month. Baltimore can move him to I.R. as soon as Sunday, which would open another roster spot.

Rookie outside linebacker Zach Thompson was placed on I.R. after sustaining a concussion in Thursday’s preseason finale.

The Ravens began the day by trading rookie free agent center Nick Easton to San Francisco for an unspecified draft pick.

Below are all of the moves made on Saturday:

Waived
LB Brennen Beyer
WR Jeremy Butler
CB Asa Jackson
G Kaleb Johnson
RB Terrence Magee
G Robert Myers
S Nick Perry
QB Bryn Renner
TE Konrad Reuland
FB Kiero Small
RB Fitz Toussaint

Waived-injured
DT Micajah Reynolds
DE DeAngelo Tyson

Injured reserve
LB Zach Thompson

Terminated contracts as vested veterans
OL Jah Reid
CB Cassius Vaughn

Traded to San Francisco for 2016 conditional pick
C Nick Easton

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Leftover thoughts from Ravens’ third preseason game

Posted on 30 August 2015 by Luke Jones

Many were ready to deem Asa Jackson the winner of the Ravens’ return competition after his 103-yard kickoff return late in the first half of Saturday’s 31-13 loss to Washington.

But then the fourth-year cornerback committed the cardinal sin of fumbling a punt in the fourth quarter after electing not to call for a fair catch with coverage bearing down on him. The gaffe immediately earned Jackson an animated lecture from special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg on the sideline.

To no surprise, the turnover holds more weight in the evaluation process than the explosive return.

“The biggest concern I have with those guys is dropping the ball,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “Asa made a bad decision, and he knows that. You have to fair catch that. That kind of hang time, you have to fair catch it. Obviously, dropping the kickoff that we had was not great either.”

For now, the job appears to be Jackson’s by default with second-year wide receiver Michael Campanaro currently injured, but you still can’t help but wonder if this year’s return specialist isn’t yet on the team. It will be interesting to see if any teams cut loose a veteran returner for a cheaper and younger alternative when final cuts are made next weekend.

** I haven’t been overly impressed with Jeremy Butler’s performance in the preseason, but the young receiver was a member of the starting kickoff and kick return units on Saturday night, a good sign for his chances of making the 53-man roster.

Butler caught four passes for 32 yards against Washington, but three of those receptions came in the second half against the Redskins reserves. He hasn’t shown consistent ability to gain separation against reserve defensive backs, making you doubt whether he can make an impact as an NFL receiver.

With Campanaro and rookie Breshad Perriman currently sidelined with injuries, the Ravens are more likely to keep an extra receiver, which is good news for both Butler and sixth-round rookie Darren Waller.

** It was interesting to note that rookie running back Terrence Magee played 15 offensive snaps and carried four times for 13 yards while second-year back Fitz Toussaint only saw duty on special teams on Saturday night.

The Ravens are likely to carry an extra running back with Lorenzo Taliaferro sidelined with a knee injury for at least the next few weeks, and Saturday indicated that Magee is garnering strong consideration as the temporary No. 3 back behind starter Justin Forsett and rookie fourth-rounder Buck Allen.

** Speaking of Allen, I can forgive his underwhelming rushing performance (24 yards on 12 carries) due to the injured state of the offensive line, but his goal-line fumble in the closing seconds of the first half didn’t sit well with Harbaugh and was inexcusable when you’re a step away from the end zone.

“It’s just not possible to put runners out there that fumble the football,” Harbaugh said. “He’s going to have other opportunities and chances going forward, and I really believe he’s going to be a very good player. But, he’s going to have to learn from that.”

Allen is going to receive plenty of carries with Taliaferro out, but there’s no quicker way to find your way to Harbaugh’s doghouse than to put the ball on the turf.

** The run of injuries on the defensive line was the most disturbing development from Saturday’s game, but Kapron Lewis-Moore improved his chances of making the 53-man roster with a solid outing.

It’s been a quiet summer for the 2014 sixth-round pick who missed each of the last two seasons with injuries, but he played the run well, making four tackles in 28 defensive snaps against the Redskins. If any of the injuries to Timmy Jernigan, Lawrence Guy, and DeAngelo Tyson linger into the start of the regular season, Lewis-Moore may find himself on the favorable side of the roster bubble.

** I’ll spare you another negative review of backup Matt Schaub’s performance on Saturday, because it was obvious if you watched the game.

However, I’d be interested to see how the Ravens would handle their backup quarterback spot if Schaub weren’t already guaranteed $2 million this season. To be clear, no one should confuse Bryn Renner with the next Frank Reich, but the young quarterback has played well enough this summer to garner a spot on the practice squad.

** Rookie outside linebacker Zach Thompson only played 13 defensive snaps, but he was a member of the starting kickoff team, which is something to keep in mind in the final week of the preseason before final cuts next Saturday.

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