With the 2015 preseason in the books, the Ravens now turn their full attention toward the season opener against the Denver Broncos on Sept. 13.
But first, it’s time to go on the record with the final projection of the Ravens’ 53-man roster to begin the regular season as head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome will make their final decisions by 4 p.m. on Saturday. Of course, this will only be the beginning as the Ravens will explore the possibility of adding other players who will become available over the next few days.
With injury concerns at receiver, running back, and on the defensive line as well as overall depth questions in the secondary, the Ravens could be active as they have been in the past in adding veteran talent just before the start of the season. Many have also speculated that Baltimore could be in the market to add a veteran return specialist, which appeared to be an even bigger concern after Thursday’s preseason loss in Atlanta.
Though Newsome, Harbaugh, and the remainder of the coaching staff and front office are aware of the number of players at each position, trying to boldly pinpoint a specific number of receivers or linebackers isn’t the most accurate way of projecting the roster. In filling out the back end of their roster, the Ravens will look carefully at players’ special-teams abilities in addition to what they bring to their position.
The numbers in parentheses indicate the total number of players they are projected to keep at that given position.
IN: Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub
OUT: Bryn Renner
Skinny: The veteran Schaub quelled some concerns with a strong performance in the preseason finale, but the Ravens hope they won’t need him to play for the rest of the season. Meanwhile, Renner was solid after a rough start on Thursday, but he still figures to have a decent chance to make the practice squad.
RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (4)
IN: Justin Forsett, Kyle Juszczyk, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Buck Allen
OUT: Terrence Magee, Fitz Toussaint, Kiero Small
Skinny: The prediction here is that the Ravens will waive both Magee and Toussaint to create a temporary roster spot to accomodate Brent Urban and to explore veteran backs that may become available elsewhere. They will then have the option to bring back either one assuming they clear waivers.
WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
IN: Steve Smith, Breshad Perriman, Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown, Michael Campanaro, Darren Waller
OUT: Jeremy Butler, Daniel Brown, Tom Nelson
Skinny: Butler has had a role on special-teams units this summer, but he just hasn’t shown enough ability to gain separation with extensive looks in the passing game. Marlon Brown’s job wasn’t in danger, but it was nice seeing him show up emphatically in the first quarter on Thursday night.
TIGHT ENDS (3)
IN: Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle
PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO PERFORM LIST: Dennis Pitta
OUT: Konrad Reuland
Skinny: This position group has been decided ever since Harbaugh confirmed last month that Pitta would begin the year on the PUP list. You have to wonder how quickly Williams will be able to make an impact after being limited with injuries quite a bit this summer.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)
LOCK: Marshal Yanda, Kelechi Osemele, Rick Wagner, Eugene Monroe, Jeremy Zuttah, John Urschel, James Hurst, Robert Myers, Jah Reid
OUT: Ryan Jensen, Kaleb Johnson, Nick Easton, Blaine Clausell
Skinny: The current injury to Jensen makes the decision a little easier to stick with Myers, a 2015 fifth-round pick who struggled during the preseason. A good summer for Johnson makes him an attractive option for the practice squad along with Jensen.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (7)
IN: Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, Chris Canty, Carl Davis, Lawrence Guy, Kapron Lewis-Moore
INJURED RESERVE-DESIGNATED TO RETURN: Brent Urban (must be on the 53-man roster until Sunday)
OUT: DeAngelo Tyson, Christo Bilukidi, Micajah Reynolds
Skinny: A strong finish to the summer put Lewis-Moore back on the positive side of the bubble as he’s finally starting to show signs of the player he was at Notre Dame before suffering two major injuries. Tyson becomes the odd man out after an injury-riddled summer and a disappointing 2014 season.
INSIDE LINEBACKERS (5)
IN: Daryl Smith, C.J. Mosley, Zachary Orr, Albert McClellan, Arthur Brown
OUT: Andrew Bose
Skinny: Brown is in a tenuous position as the Ravens still think he possesses upside as a linebacker, but his special-teams ability clearly lags behind Orr and McClellan. Baltimore will try to carry the 2013 second-round pick on the roster, but positional needs elsewhere will make it difficult.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
IN: Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, Za’Darius Smith
OUT: Brennen Beyer, Zach Thompson
Skinny: The Ravens hope Smith is ready to step into Pernell McPhee’s old hybrid role in passing situations, but the fourth-round rookie remains a work in progress. A strong performance in the final preseason game was a nice statement from Beyer to land on the practice squad.
IN: Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith, Kyle Arrington, Tray Walker, Rashaan Melvin, Asa Jackson
OUT: Cassius Vaughn, Quinton Pointer
Skinny: Jackson makes the 53-man roster for now, but the Ravens really need to pursue an upgrade at cornerback and in the return game. Vaughn and Pointer were too up and down over the course of the summer to warrant roster spots.
IN: Will Hill, Kendrick Lewis, Terrence Brooks, Anthony Levine
OUT: Brynden Trawick, Nick Perry
Skinny: Trawick is a victim of the numbers game after serving a steady role on special teams over the last couple seasons. The Ravens need Brooks to knock off the rust from the knee injury as quickly as possible to sure up depth behind Hill and Lewis.
IN: Sam Koch, Morgan Cox, Justin Tucker
Skinny: This trio begins its fourth season together as the Ravens easily possess one of the best sets of specialists in the NFL.