With two preseason games in the books, the Ravens’ 53-man roster picture continues to take shape with final cuts less than two weeks away and questions still remaining.
Depth concerns are apparent along the defensive line and in the secondary, which could prompt general manager Ozzie Newsome to be looking for outside help to enchance the roster between now and the start of the season. Meanwhile, the Ravens appear to have some depth at linebacker and on the offensive line — though overall quality might be in question with the latter — that could leave a few incumbents on the outside looking in by the end of the summer.
My current look at the roster suggests 42 players are locks if the deadline to trim the roster to 53 took place today. My rough assessment of the 90 players on the roster lists 20 players on the bubble with at least some decent chance of making the final roster. Not all bubble players are on equal footing, with certain positions lacking quality depth and others enjoying an abundance of talent.
Though general manager Ozzie Newsome, head coach John Harbaugh, and the remainder of the coaching staff and front office are cognizant of the number of players at each position, trying to pinpoint a specific number of wide receivers or linebackers isn’t the most accurate way of projecting the roster. The Ravens will always look carefully at players’ special-teams abilities in addition to what they bring to their specific positional group.
The Ravens must trim the roster from the current 90 players to 75 by 4 p.m. on Aug. 26 and must go down to the regular-season number of 53 by Aug. 30.
The numbers in parentheses indicate the total number of players currently on the roster at that given position. Bubble players’ names that are underlined are currently on my projected 53-man roster as of Aug. 17. Players listed as injured or suspended are not projected to count against the 53-man roster when final cuts are made.
LOCK: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
BUBBLE: Keith Wenning
LONG SHOT: None
Skinny: With depth concerns at other positions, it’s difficult to justify the Ravens keeping three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster for the first time since 2009. They’re likely to attempt to sneak Wenning through waivers to place him on the practice squad, but it won’t be the end of the world if another team snatches up the sixth-round selection.
RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (8)
LOCK: Bernard Pierce, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Kyle Juszczyk
BUBBLE: Justin Forsett
LONG SHOT: Cierre Wood, Fitz Toussaint, Shaun Chapas
SUSPENDED: Ray Rice (will be suspended for the first two games of the regular season)
Skinny: The rapid emergence of Taliaferro and two fumbles in two preseason games by Forsett have landed the veteran in a more vulnerable position than you’d expect despite Rice serving a suspension to begin the season. The guess is Forsett still finds his way on the 53-man roster to begin the year, but his spot will be in serious danger by Week 3.
WIDE RECEIVERS (11)
LOCK: Steve Smith, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Marlon Brown
BUBBLE: Michael Campanaro, Kamar Aiken, Deonte Thompson
LONG SHOT: Jeremy Butler, LaQuan Williams, Mike Willie, Jace Davis
Skinny: Many will view Thompson’s 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown as a play that lands him on the roster, but the third-year wideout only saw two offensive snaps against Dallas. Aiken has been the better player this summer and has more size as a receiver, and Campanaro has shown more consistent hands than Thompson.
TIGHT ENDS (5)
LOCK: Dennis Pitta, Crockett Gillmore, Owen Daniels
LONG SHOT: Phillip Supernaw, Nathan Overbay
Skinny: The Ravens’ decision to “rest” Daniels is raising eyebrows as it relates to the veteran’s health, but his inability to gain separation in practices has tempered enthusiasm for the tight end position. However, his track record and an uneven summer for the rookie Gillmore make it difficult to think Daniels is anything but a lock.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (16)
LOCK: Eugene Monroe, Kelechi Osemele, Jeremy Zuttah, Marshal Yanda, Rick Wagner, Gino Gradkowski, John Urschel
BUBBLE: Jah Reid, A.Q. Shipley, James Hurst, Will Rackley, Ryan Jensen
LONG SHOT: Brett Van Sloten, Reggie Stephens, David Mims, Parker Graham
Skinny: Reid gets the nod as the primary backup tackle over Hurst, and Shipley has been more consistent than Jensen this summer. Hurst and Jensen would be strong candidates for the practice squad if left off the 53-man roster.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (12)