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The Ravens started Saturday with 63 players on their roster and wasted no time working to get down to the NFL-mandated 53 by 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Wide receiver Tandon Doss headlined a list of cuts that included tight ends Matt Furstenburg and Billy Bajema, running back Bobby Rainey, defensive lineman Cody Larsen,offensive linemen J.J. Unga and Antoine McClain, and safety Omar Brown.
A fourth-round pick in the 2011 draft, Doss was expected to play a larger role in the passing game following the offseason trade of Anquan Boldin, but the third-year wideout struggled with consistency in both practices and preseason games. His five-catch, 75-yard performance in the preseason finale against St. Louis apparently wasn’t enough to change the Ravens’ minds about his roster fate.
The decision to jettison Doss left roster space for third-year wide receiver LaQuan Williams, who has consistency issues of his own but is a more versatile special-teams player than Doss. On Friday, head coach John Harbaugh painted a positive picture for the chances of rookies Marlon Brown and Aaron Mellette to make the 53-man roster and the departure of Doss only confirmed that.
Parting ways with both Furstenburg and Bajema as well as Rainey was surprising in that it leaves the Ravens with just two healthy tight ends and two running backs on their 53-man roster, which would be unusual for most NFL rosters. However, backup fullback Kyle Juszczyk could be viewed as the third-string option at each position should the Ravens elect to stay with that roster breakdown.
Last season, third-string running back Anthony Allen had 16 carries while Bajema made zero receptions as the Ravens’ No. 3 tight end. It reflects the reality of those final spots on the 53-man roster being much more about special-teams contributions than positional depth.
After deciding to cut Brown, the Ravens kept five safeties with Anthony Levine and Brynden Trawick backing up the trio of Michael Huff, James Ihedigbo, and first-round pick Matt Elam. Baltimore only has four active cornerbacks on the roster at the moment, so the decision to carry five safeties eases depth concerns in the secondary since Huff has experience playing corner in the NFL. Trawick blocked a punt in the preseason opener and played well in the fourth exhibition game, but he was considered by most pundits to be trailing both Brown and Levine in the hunt for a roster spot.
With defensive backs Asa Jackson and Christian Thompson both beginning the season on the reserve-suspended list, the Ravens now have 53 active players on their roster. However, offensive lineman Ryan Jensen remains on the roster for now despite breaking his foot early in training camp. He has long been considered a candidate for injured reserve and could easily be placed there should general manager Ozzie Newsome claim another player off waivers as early as Sunday.
Further complicating the roster picture is tight end Dennis Pitta, who cannot be placed on the injured reserve-designated to return list until Tuesday. This essentially means the Ravens had to cut their roster to 52 healthy players, but it could open the door for either Bajema or Furstenburg to be re-signed if they don’t catch on elsewhere.
All but one of the Ravens’ 10 selections in the 2013 draft survived final cut-down day with only seventh-round cornerback Marc Anthony being let go. Sixth-round defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore was placed on the non-football injury list last week as he continues to rehab from a torn ACL suffered in January.
Anthony was the organization’s first draft pick to be cut in the same year he was selected since 2009 when fifth-round tight end Davon Drew and sixth-round running back Cedric Peerman were both waived.
Here’s the official look at the 53-man roster and corresponding moves as of Saturday’s 6 p.m. deadline:
QB: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
RB: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce
FB: Vonta Leach, Kyle Juszczyk
TE: Ed Dickson, Dallas Clark, *Dennis Pitta
WR: Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Brandon Stokley, Marlon Brown, Deonte Thompson, Aaron Mellette, LaQuan Williams
OL: Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, A.Q. Shipley, Jah Reid, Rick Wagner, Ryan Jensen (injured)
DL: Haloti Ngata, Chris Canty, Arthur Jones, Marcus Spears, Brandon Williams, Terrence Cody, DeAngelo Tyson
OLB: Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, Pernell McPhee, John Simon
ILB: Daryl Smith, Josh Bynes, Arthur Brown, Albert McClellan
CB: Lardarius Webb, Corey Graham, Jimmy Smith, Chykie Brown
S: Michael Huff, James Ihedigbo, Matt Elam, Anthony Levine, Brynden Trawick
Specialists: Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Morgan Cox
*Pitta may be placed on injured reserve-designated to return on Tuesday afternoon.
Injured-reserve: Adrian Hamilton, D.J. Bryant
Reserve-suspended: Asa Jackson, Christian Thompson
Physically unable to perform: Jameel McClain
Non-football injury: Kapron Lewis-Moore