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Twelve Ravens thoughts prior to start of organized team activities

Posted on 15 May 2018 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens set to begin organized team activities in Owings Mills next week, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The Ravens won’t be at full strength when they begin organized team activities next week, but OTAs provide the first real look at the 2018 team. Observations will be blown out of proportion, but it’s another welcome checkpoint on the road to the start of the season.

2. Next week will hopefully conclude the ridiculous opening chapter of the Joe Flacco-Lamar Jackson saga in which some have tried to make you believe Flacco has ignored the rookie’s calls and texts, stolen his dog, and even asked Thanos to snap his fingers and make him disappear.

3. The coaching staff should do what it can to utilize Jackson’s explosive athleticism without disrupting the rhythm of the offense or hindering his long-term development. Flacco doesn’t have the rope this time around to balk at the notion of a “high school offense” like he did several years ago.

4. Baltimore returns all but one player — Lardarius Webb — who played a defensive snap last season. That’s a remarkable level of defensive continuity in the era of the salary cap. Now it’s up to new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale to take this group to another level.

5. It’s easy to forget about Tavon Young after he sustained a season-ending knee injury nearly one year ago, but he ranked 30th among qualified cornerbacks in Pro Football Focus’ grading system during his rookie season in 2016. This secondary has so many options.

6. Kenneth Dixon was a quiet winner during draft weekend when the Ravens didn’t select a running back. Baltimore could really use his play-making ability to complement Alex Collins, but Dixon needs to prove he’s healthy and committed to being a professional after his knee injury and two drug suspensions.

7. I’ll buy stock in Martindale utilizing Tony Jefferson more effectively than Dean Pees did, but restructuring his contract is questionable after his underwhelming first season in Baltimore. As others have suggested, this makes you think the extension with C.J. Mosley that would have cleared needed cap space isn’t close.

8. Bradley Bozeman had quite the career at Alabama and could one day develop into a productive player, but this isn’t a diamond in the rough at a small school that was simply overlooked. Suggestions that the sixth-round rookie could be the starting center are premature.

9. I’m curious to see what Nico Siragusa’s level of participation will be this spring after he suffered such a serious knee injury last summer. He would be an interesting name to throw into the center mix if he’s fully recovered, but little has been said about his status.

10. Quincy Adeboyejo was already far from a lock to make the 53-man roster, but the second-year wide receiver underwent surgery on his left leg Tuesday and didn’t exactly comment as though it were something minor. You hate seeing injuries, especially this time of year.

11. With the Ravens not using meaningful draft capital or free-agent dollars on a pass rusher, either Tyus Bowser or Tim Williams needs to take a big step forward in the way Matt Judon did a year ago. You can’t expect Terrell Suggs to continue leading the way forever.

12. A rookie quarterback and a large draft class should benefit from both a longer training camp due to the Hall of Fame Game as well as joint practices with the Los Angeles Rams and Indianapolis, but John Harbaugh must strike the right balance in keeping players healthy and fresh.

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How did Ravens wide receivers stack up to rest of NFL in 2017?

Posted on 30 January 2018 by Luke Jones

The Ravens failed to make the postseason for the fourth time in five years, but where exactly did their players stack up across the NFL in 2017?

Whether it’s discussing the Pro Bowl or picking postseason awards, media and fans spend much time debating where players rank at each position, but few put in the necessary time and effort to watch every player on every team extensively enough to develop any kind of an authoritative opinion.

Truthfully, how many times did you closely watch the offensive line of the Los Angeles Chargers this season? What about the Detroit Lions linebackers or the Miami Dolphins cornerbacks?

That’s why I can appreciate projects such as Bleacher Report’s NFL1000 and the grading efforts of Pro Football Focus. Of course, neither should be viewed as the gospel of evaluation and each is subjective, but I respect the exhaustive effort to grade players across the league when so many of us watch only one team or one division on any kind of a consistent basis. It’s important to note that the following PFF rankings are where the player stood at the conclusion of the regular season.

Below is a look at where Ravens wide receivers ranked across the league, according to those outlets:

Running backs
Defensive linemen
Tight ends
Cornerbacks

Mike Wallace
2017 offensive snap count: 714
NFL1000 ranking: 38th among outside receivers
PFF ranking: 49th
Skinny: The speedy veteran rebounded from a brutal first half to collect 32 catches for 481 yards and two touchdowns over the final seven games. He has clear limitations and is a No. 2 wideout, but he’s rebuilt his value in Baltimore, which will make it interesting to see what kind of free-agent market he’ll have.

Jeremy Maclin
2017 offensive snap count: 512
NFL1000 ranking: 29th among slot receivers
PFF ranking: 52nd
Skinny: Maclin was supposed to be the No. 1 receiver, but he instead posted career lows in catches (40) and receiving yards (440) and never meshed with Joe Flacco. He remains under contract for 2018, but a $7.5 million cap number and doubts about his dedication don’t seem like a tenable combination.

Chris Moore
2017 offensive snap count: 375
NFL1000 ranking: 58th among outside receivers
PFF ranking: 88th
Skinny: The special-teams standout showed improvement in his second year, but enthusiasm for his development was much more of a product of the failure of the passing game. Moore shouldn’t be viewed as any better than a No. 3 or No. 4, but he’s the safest bet of any incumbents to be on the 2018 roster.

Breshad Perriman
2017 offensive snap count: 387
NFL1000 ranking: 96th among outside receivers
PFF ranking: 118th
Skinny: The 2015 first-round pick was one of the worst receivers in the NFL — he was dead last in PFF’s grading — and regressed dramatically from his second season when he was at least a functional contributor with 499 receiving yards. Perriman has much to prove just to secure a 2018 roster spot.

Michael Campanaro
2017 offensive snap count: 263
NFL1000 ranking: 30th among slot receivers
PFF ranking: n/a
Skinny: The River Hill product was finally healthy enough to appear in a career-high 13 games and performed well as a punt returner, but his lack of size and straight-line speed limit his upside as a receiver. He will be an unrestricted free agent, but you wouldn’t expect him to have much of a market.

Quincy Adeboyejo
2017 offensive snap count: 21
NFL1000 ranking: n/a
PFF ranking: n/a
Skinny: The undrafted rookie turned some heads early in training camp, but a knee injury limited him in the preseason and he spent the entire season on the practice squad until Week 17. Like fellow rookie free agent Tim White, Adeboyejo carries some intrigue, but he’ll have to earn his way onto the 2018 roster.

2018 positional outlook

This position group looks nothing short of disastrous going into the offseason as Wallace is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent and the disappointing Maclin looks to be a cap casualty. At some point, this organization needs to make a real commitment to improving at wide receiver beyond hoping for the best with past-their-prime veterans and drafting one in the first round once every decade. Since taking Torrey Smith in the second round of the 2011 draft, general manager Ozzie Newsome has selected one receiver (Perriman) with his 20 Day 1 and Day 2 picks over the last six drafts. It’s fine to point to the franchise’s poor history with drafting receivers, but that’s not an excuse for doing so little over the years to try to change that narrative. You get what you pay for, and the Ravens have done an awful job building an offense around Joe Flacco, who doesn’t deserve as much blame as he receives from so many of his critics.

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Examining the Ravens’ 2018 class of free agents

Posted on 03 January 2018 by Luke Jones

Free agency won’t begin until March 14, but the Ravens face arguably the most pivotal offseason in team history after missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five years and seeing fan support dwindle in 2017.

As has become Baltimore’s annual story, salary cap space will be a problem as the Ravens currently hold an estimated 2018 Rule of 51 commitment of just under $170 million, according to Spotrac.com. The 2018 salary cap won’t be set until March, but it is projected to rise from $167 million in 2017 to somewhere between $174 million and $178 million. Since the aforementioned commitment doesn’t include any of their pending free agents, the Ravens will clearly have difficult decisions to make with some cap analysts already painting a very gloomy picture about their lack of cap space and their limited flexibility.

This comes with the reality that the Ravens have substantial work to do to their roster — especially on the offensive side of the ball — if they want to escape the land of mediocrity in which they’ve resided since Super Bowl XLVII.

Of course, the Ravens can create cap space by renegotiating, extending, or terminating veteran contracts and will surely do some combination of that. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, cornerback Brandon Carr, running back Danny Woodhead, right tackle Austin Howard, defensive back Lardarius Webb, and linebacker Albert McClellan stand out as veteran candidates who could become cap casualties this winter.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

The Ravens will have the opportunity to retain any of the following 12 unrestricted free agents before they can officially sign with any other team beginning on March 14 at 4 p.m.

CB Brandon Boykin: Once considered one of the better slot corners in the league, Boykin was placed on injured reserve in early September and is not expected to return.

OL Luke Bowanko: The veteran saw action in all 16 games and made one start, but the returns of guards Marshal Yanda, Alex Lewis, and Nico Siragusa from injuries make him expendable.

WR Michael Campanaro: The River Hill product played in a career-high 13 games and did nice work as a punt returner, making him a candidate to be re-signed at a cheap price.

TE Crockett Gillmore: The 6-foot-6, 266-pound Gillmore showed intriguing potential in 2015, but he’s missed 29 of Baltimore’s last 36 games due to injury, making his return highly questionable.

OL James Hurst: The once-maligned reserve offensive tackle found a niche as a serviceable starting left guard in 2017, but the aforementioned returning depth inside probably makes him expendable.

C Ryan Jensen: His emergence as a formidable starting center was a godsend with two backups handling the guard spots all year, but did the rest of the NFL also take notice in the process?

LB Steven Johnson: The veteran journeyman did a solid job on special teams in 10 games, but his spot and opportunity will likely go to a younger and cheaper player in 2018.

QB Ryan Mallett: With Joe Flacco turning 33 later this month and battling inconsistency and some health concerns in recent years, the Ravens should be looking to draft a backup with more upside.

DE Brent Urban: The 6-foot-7 specimen looked poised for a strong year during the preseason, but he’s missed 39 games in four seasons, making him a poor candidate in which to invest any real money.

WR Mike Wallace: Market demand will be a major factor here, but the Ravens will be looking at needing to add two to three impactful receivers if Wallace exits and the disappointing Maclin is cut.

TE Benjamin Watson: The 37-year-old was a good story coming back from last year’s torn Achilles tendon to lead the team in catches, but the Ravens really need more of a play-maker at this position. 

RB Terrance West: The Baltimore native and Towson product turned his career around with the Ravens, but he will likely be seeking a better opportunity elsewhere in 2018.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS – none in 2018

EXCLUSIVE-RIGHTS FREE AGENTS

These seven players have less than three years of accrued service and can be tendered a contract for the league minimum based on their length of service in the league. If tendered, these players are not free to negotiate with other teams. The Ravens usually tender all exclusive-rights free agents with the thought that there’s nothing assured beyond the opportunity to compete for a spot. Exclusive-rights tenders are not guaranteed, meaning a player can be cut at any point without consequence to the salary cap.

WR Quincy Adeboyejo: The rookie turned some heads early in training camp and received a Week 17 promotion from the practice squad, but he’ll need to earn his way onto the 2018 roster.

RB Alex Collins: Given the present challenges with the cap, Collins falling into the Ravens’ laps was a major development of the season as he’ll be the clear favorite to be the 2018 starter at a cheap cost.

CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste: Promoted to the active roster after Jimmy Smith tore his Achilles tendon in early December, Jean-Baptiste will be in the mix next summer to try to make the roster.

TE Vince Mayle: Though not a factor as an offensive player, Mayle was a consistent special-teams contributor and has a chance to reprise that role next season.

LB Patrick Onwuasor: With the disappointing development of Kamalei Correa, Onwuasor started 12 games at the weak-side inside spot, but the Ravens could use some more competition here.

OL Maurquice Shakir: Promoted from the practice squad at the end of October, Shakir was inactive for eight games and will have the chance to compete for a job next summer.

G Matt Skura: The former undrafted free agent and practice-squad member did a respectable job filling in for the injured Yanda and could be in the mix at center if Jensen departs via free agency.

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Twelve Ravens thoughts following 31-27 loss to Cincinnati

Posted on 02 January 2018 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five years in a 31-27 loss to Cincinnati, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. I initially called it the most devastating home loss in team history and was quickly reminded by several folks on Twitter of the crushing 2006 playoff defeat to Indianapolis. They were right, but I’ll still say this was the most stunning home defeat in 22 seasons of Ravens football.

2. Andy Dalton’s 49-yard touchdown to Tyler Boyd will be remembered, but don’t forget the horrendous first half that put the Ravens in a hole. His team looking flat and unprepared with the season on the line was a poor reflection on John Harbaugh, especially after a shaky performance against Indianapolis.

3. Maurice Canady was a Week 16 hero, but he was picked on during the final drive and was out of position to make a play on the ball or the tackle on Boyd’s touchdown. Eric Weddle was also in no man’s land in zone after showing blitz before the snap.

4. Remember the talk about the Ravens not letting A.J. Green beat them? The seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver finished with two catches for 17 yards. Feel any better that the “Tylers” — Boyd and Kroft — did it instead? Yeah, didn’t think so.

5. We certainly saw a less-accurate Joe Flacco than we’d seen in recent weeks and his third-down throwaway before Cincinnati’s final drive was terrible — Mike Wallace was wide open underneath to at least attempt to keep the clock moving — but five drops from his receivers did him no favors.

6. Wallace had a few and is no better than a No. 2 wideout, but letting him walk would feel similar to Torrey Smith’s exit. I also have doubts about Jeremy Maclin’s future, so do you trust the Ravens to add at least two impactful receivers this offseason? I certainly don’t.

7. The defense allowed a whopping 126 rushing yards in the first half and surrendered over 4.0 yards per carry in a season for the first time in team history. Brandon Williams’ four-game absence explains much of that, but the run defense was still quite disappointing relative to expectations.

8. After all the discussion about the impact of Danny Woodhead returning, the 32-year-old caught 30 passes for 167 yards after the bye and eclipsed 40 yards from scrimmage in a game twice. The Ravens touted his signing as their major offensive addition last offseason before Maclin fell into their laps.

9. Breshad Perriman was a healthy scratch in favor of an undrafted rookie receiver who was making his NFL debut in Quincy Adeboyejo. What else is there to say about the 2015 first-round pick?

10. Speaking of underwhelming draft choices, Kamalei Correa, Bronson Kaufusi, Tyus Bowser, Chris Wormley, and Tim Williams combined for seven defensive snaps Sunday. The last three are rookies and absolutely deserve more time before judgment, but that’s not much of an early return from Day 2 of the last two drafts.

11. Flacco throwing well short of the chains on fourth-and-14 was a fitting way to close the book on the 2017 Ravens, but there were only two healthy wide receivers on the field and one was a rookie who had been on the practice squad all year. Not ideal.

12. This had to be one of the weirdest games I’ve ever seen in terms of time of possession. The Ravens held the ball for barely more than nine minutes in the first half while Cincinnati possessed it for less than eight minutes after intermission. Strange.

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Ravens-Bengals: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 31 December 2017 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Win and they’re in.

The task is that clear for the Ravens, who would clinch the AFC’s No. 5 seed and play at Kansas City in the wild-card round next weekend with a win over Cincinnati. However, an upset defeat would leave Baltimore to hope for a loss by either Buffalo or Tennessee to secure a postseason bid.

The Ravens will have to do it without one of their starting wide receivers as Jeremy Maclin is out for the second straight week with a left knee injury. Second-year wideout Chris Moore is expected to start in his place with Michael Campanaro and the recently-promoted Quincy Adeboyejo also in the mix.

Wide receiver Breshad Perriman is a healthy scratch for the fourth time in seven games since the bye as the Ravens elected to go with an undrafted rookie in Adeboyejo over their 2015 first-round pick on Sunday.

As expected, veteran wide receiver Mike Wallace (knee) is active and will start despite being limited in practice with a knee issue early in the week. Defensive tackle Brandon Williams (back), right tackle Austin Howard (knee), and fullback Patrick Ricard (neck) are also active after being designated as questionable on the final injury report.

Cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste is active and will make his Ravens debut in a special-teams role. Rookie third-round defensive end Chris Wormley is also active for just the second time since the bye week.

Running back Terrance West is again a healthy scratch after not playing in Week 16, the first time he’d been active on game day since Week 5.

The Ravens will be playing a disappointing Cincinnati team that won’t be at full strength on defense as standout linebacker Vontaze Burfict (shoulder) was downgraded to out on Saturday. However, cornerback William Jackson (knee) and running back Joe Mixon (ankle) are active after being listed as questionable for Week 17.

The Bengals are very likely playing their final game with head coach Marvin Lewis, who is expected to part ways with the organization after 15 years at the helm in Cincinnati. Of course, Lewis served as Ravens defensive coordinator from 1996-2001.

Sunday’s referee is Ron Torbert.

According to Weather.com, the Sunday forecast in Baltimore calls for partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 20s with winds 10 to 15 miles per hour and only a small chance of precipitation. Showing off his Minnesota roots, tight end Maxx Williams spent part of the pre-game warmup without a shirt.

The Ravens are wearing their purple  jerseys with white pants while Cincinnati dons white tops with black pants for its season finale.

Sunday marks the 44th all-time meeting between these AFC North rivals with the Ravens enjoying the slight 22-21 advantage. Despite a 20-0 shutout victory at Paul Brown Stadium to open the season, Baltimore has lost six of the last eight to the Bengals and is just 9-10 against them in the John Harbaugh era.

The Ravens are aiming for their 14th win in their last 15 home finales with the only blemish coming against New England in Week 16 of the 2013 campaign.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
WR Jeremy Maclin
WR Breshad Perriman
RB Terrance West
LB Tim Williams
OL Jermaine Eluemunor
OL Maurquice Shakir
DE Bronson Kaufusi

CINCINNATI
WR Cody Core
DB KeiVarae Russell
RB Jarveon Williams
LB Vontaze Burfict
DL Josh Tupou
OL Cedric Ogbuehi
OL Justin Murray

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Ravens place cornerback on IR, promote wide receiver from practice squad

Posted on 27 December 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens cornerback Jaylen Hill sustained a season-ending knee injury in the third quarter of Saturday’s win over Indianapolis.

The rookie defensive back suffered a non-contact injury covering a punt, tearing the ACL and MCL in his right knee. Hill appeared in six games after being the biggest surprise of the preseason, earning a spot on the 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent out of Jacksonville State.

“He was really working hard on special teams and developing as a defensive back,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s a developmental guy for us that has a real bright future, but he will have to go to work to rehab that injury. That was a tough one for him and for us.”

A hamstring injury suffered late in the summer sidelined Hill for the first six weeks of the regular season, derailing his bid to become Baltimore’s nickel corner. His injury will likely pave the way for cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste to be active on game days after being a healthy scratch for three straight contests since his promotion from the practice squad.

To take Hill’s place on the active roster, the Ravens promoted wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo from the practice squad. Baltimore also signed cornerback Robert Nelson to the practice squad on Tuesday.

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Adeboyejo headlines early list of Ravens practice-squad signings

Posted on 03 September 2017 by Luke Jones

The Ravens announced six signings to their practice squad on Sunday, a group composed exclusively of players who were with them during the preseason.

Wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo, fullback Ricky Ortiz, linebacker Boseko Lokombo, tight end Ryan Malleck, offensive lineman Maurquice Shakir, and cornerback Reggie Porter were all re-signed to the developmental squad a day after being waived from the preseason roster. Baltimore still has four open spots to fill on its practice squad with the team not returning to work until Tuesday.

An undrafted free agent from Mississippi, Adeboyejo turned some heads with his play-making ability early in training camp, but those flashes never carried over to preseason games. The 6-foot-3 receiver was also slowed by a knee injury over the last couple weeks, but he brings some upside with more seasoning.

Adeboyejo caught three passes for 31 yards in the preseason.

The re-signing of Ortiz wasn’t surprising after the Ravens did not keep a traditional fullback on their 53-man roster. Rookie defensive lineman Patrick Ricard has received quite a few reps at fullback and as a blocking tight end, but it remains to be seen whether he will permanently move to that side of the ball.

The Oregon State product had three carries for eight yards and caught four passes for 21 yards in the preseason.

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Mizzell, Skura, Matthews among final Ravens cuts to get to 53

Posted on 02 September 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens made their final subtractions to form their initial roster for the 2017 regular season without any major surprises.

Running back Taquan Mizzell, offensive lineman Matt Skura, and wide receivers Chris Matthews and Quincy Adeboyejo headlined a list of 14 cuts made to trim the preseason roster down to the 53-man limit. Baltimore also placed veteran cornerback Brandon Boykin on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury.

A trio of rookie free agents — cornerback Jaylen Hill, linebacker Bam Bradley, and defensive lineman and hybrid blocking fullback and tight end Patrick Ricard — made the team, meaning the Ravens have kept at least one undrafted rookie on their 53-man roster for the 14th consecutive season. Hill and Ricard turned heads with their performance even dating back to spring workouts while Bradley made plays on defensive and special teams during the preseason and benefited from a numbers standpoint after the season-ending knee injury suffered by veteran Albert McClellan.

Mizzell led the team in both rushing and receiving in the preseason, but general manager Ozzie Newsome elected to keep only three running backs. Fellow rookie free agent Ricky Ortiz was also waived, meaning the Ravens do not have a traditional fullback on the current roster. Both would appear to be reasonable candidates to be signed to the practice squad.

Skura had started all four preseason games at left guard, but the acquisitions of offensive linemen Tony Bergstrom and Luke Bowanko left him and former starting center Jeremy Zuttah on the outside looking in. The Ravens would likely be open to re-signing Skura to the practice squad for the second straight season.

Matthews had played a prominent role on special teams throughout the summer, but the Ravens elected to keep only five receivers on their roster with 2016 fourth-round pick Chris Moore receiving the nod. A rookie free agent from Mississippi, Adeboyejo turned heads with big plays early in training camp, but he dealt with a nagging knee issue as the summer continued and was unable to duplicate his success in preseason contests.

The Ravens also cut linebackers Boseko Lokombo and Donald Payne, tight end Ryan Malleck, cornerback Reggie Porter, guard Maurquice Shakir, and quarterback Josh Woodrum. A candidate for the practice squad, Woodrum earned attention for his performance in the second preseason game at Miami, but he did little to distinguish himself as a serious roster candidate in the final two exhibition contests.

Outside linebacker Brennen Beyer, cornerback Robertson Daniel, and offensive tackle Stephane Nembot were all waived with injury designations.

As expected, injured cornerback Maurice Canady was included in the initial 53-man roster, a move that makes the 2016 sixth-round pick eligible for the designation to return later in the season. He underwent knee surgery early in training camp and is out indefinitely.

With starter Joe Flacco returning to practice on Saturday, the Ravens have elected to enter a season with only two quarterbacks for the eighth consecutive season.

Below is a look at the initial 53-man roster:

Quarterbacks (2): Joe Flacco, Ryan Mallett
Running backs (3): Terrance West, Danny Woodhead, Buck Allen
Wide receivers (5): Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman, Michael Campanaro, Chris Moore
Tight ends (4): Nick Boyle, Benjamin Watson, Maxx Williams, Vince Mayle
Offensive linemen (8): Marshal Yanda, Ronnie Stanley, Ryan Jensen, James Hurst, Austin Howard, Jermaine Eluemunor, Tony Bergstrom, Luke Bowanko

Defensive linemen (8): Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce, Brent Urban, Bronson Kaufusi, Chris Wormley, Carl Davis, Willie Henry, Patrick Ricard
Inside linebackers (4): C.J. Mosley, Kamalei Correa, Patrick Onwuasor, Bam Bradley
Outside linebackers (5): Terrell Suggs, Matt Judon, Tyus Bowser, Za’Darius Smith, Tim Williams
Cornerbacks (6): Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, Marlon Humphrey, Jaylen Hill, Sheldon Price, Maurice Canady
Safeties (5): Eric Weddle, Tony Jefferson, Lardarius Webb, Anthony Levine, Chuck Clark

Specialists (3): Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Morgan Cox

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Predicting Ravens’ initial 53-man roster at end of 2017 preseason

Posted on 01 September 2017 by Luke Jones

With the 2017 preseason now over, the Ravens turn their attention toward the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 10.

First, it’s time to go on the record with the final projection of the Ravens’ 53-man roster to begin the regular season with head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome making their final decisions by 4 p.m. on Saturday. Of course, this will only be the initial 53-man squad as the Ravens will look to add other players who could be made available over the next few days.

Though the coaching staff and the front office are aware of the numbers at each position, trying to boldly pinpoint a specific number of receivers or linebackers isn’t the most accurate way of projecting the roster. Ultimately, the organization wants to keep the best 53 players with positional preference serving more as a tiebreaker than as a hard rule that results in keeping an inferior player. In filling out the back end of their roster, the Ravens look carefully at players’ special-teams abilities in addition to what they bring to their offensive or defensive positions.

The numbers in parentheses indicate the total number of players they are projected to keep at that given position.

QUARTERBACKS (2)
IN: Joe Flacco, Ryan Mallett
OUT: Josh Woodrum, Thaddeus Lewis
Skinny: The fate of the 2017 campaign lies on the health of Flacco’s back, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Woodrum land on the practice squad as a No. 3 option.

RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (3)
IN: Terrance West, Buck Allen, Danny Woodhead
INJURED RESERVE: Kenneth Dixon
OUT: Taquan Mizzell, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Ricky Ortiz, Bobby Rainey
Skinny: Mizzell looks like a prime practice-squad candidate, and the Ravens could still seek an outside option for the fullback position in the coming days.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
IN: Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman, Michael Campanaro, Chris Moore, Chris Matthews
INJURED RESERVE: Tim White
OUT: Quincy Adeboyejo, Keenan Reynolds, Griff Whalen, C.J. Board
Skinny: Moore and Matthews make the roster because of their special-teams contributions, but neither did much to solidify a role in the passing game this preseason.

TIGHT ENDS (3)
IN: Nick Boyle, Benjamin Watson, Maxx Williams
OUT: Vince Mayle, Larry Donnell, Ryan Malleck
Skinny: The depth here is shaky at best, but it’s reasonable to think Mayle or Donnell could be re-signed in the not-too-distant future when other roster questions are addressed.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)
IN: Marshal Yanda, Ronnie Stanley, Ryan Jensen, Austin Howard, James Hurst, Jermaine Eluemunor, Jeremy Zuttah, Matt Skura
INJURED RESERVE: Alex Lewis, Nico Siragusa
OUT: De’Ondre Wesley, Stephane Nembot, Jarell Broxton, David Nelson, Jarrod Pughsley, Roubbens Joseph, Maurquice Shakir
Skinny: This is not an impressive group on paper, so you’d hope Newsome can add another viable piece to the mix between now and the start of the season.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)
IN: Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce, Brent Urban, Bronson Kaufusi, Carl Davis, Willie Henry, Chris Wormley, Patrick Ricard
OUT: None
Skinny: Keeping eight defensive lineman is unusual and likely not tenable, but there’s too much talent here to let someone go in favor of an inferior player at another position.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4)
IN: C.J. Mosley, Kamalei Correa, Patrick Onwuasor, Bam Bradley
INJURED RESERVE: Albert McClellan
OUT: Donald Payne, Brennen Beyer
Skinny: Bradley has a chance to help fill the special-teams void left by McClellan, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see a veteran inside linebacker added in the near future.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (5)
IN: Terrell Suggs, Matt Judon, Tyus Bowser, Za’Darius Smith, Tim Williams
OUT: Boseko Lokombo, Randy Allen
Skinny: Smith answered the challenge this summer to solidify his standing on the 53-man roster, but this talented young group behind Suggs must now show up when the lights come on for real.

CORNERBACKS (6)
IN: Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, Marlon Humphrey, Jaylen Hill, Sheldon Price, Maurice Canady
PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO PERFORM LIST: Tavon Young
OUT: Robertson Daniel, Trevin Wade, Brandon Boykin, Reggie Porter
Skinny: The injured Canady needs to be on the initial 53-man roster to be eligible for the designation to return from injured reserve, but the outside corner depth is as good as it’s been in a long time.

SAFETIES (5)
IN: Eric Weddle, Tony Jefferson, Lardarius Webb, Anthony Levine, Chuck Clark
OUT: Otha Foster
Skinny: With Webb and Levine both filling meaningful roles in the dime package to begin the season, Clark becomes more of a necessity for depth and will fill a large special-teams role.

SPECIALISTS (3)
IN: Sam Koch, Morgan Cox, Justin Tucker
OUT: Kenny Allen, Taybor Pepper
Skinny: This trio of specialists stays together for the sixth consecutive season, which is quite a rarity in today’s NFL.

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Several offensive standouts still sidelined as Ravens return to practice

Posted on 23 August 2017 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Counting down to what’s labeled the dress rehearsal before the start of the regular season, the Ravens continue to be without several notable offensive players at practice.

Starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley and veteran running back Danny Woodhead remained absent during Wednesday’s workout despite Baltimore having not practiced the previous two days. Stanley hasn’t been on the practice field since Aug. 12 due to unspecified ailments while Woodhead was banged up in the Miami game, making both unlikely to play against Buffalo in the all-important third preseason game on Saturday.

Other players not practicing Wednesday included quarterback Joe Flacco (back), wide receiver Breshad Perriman (hamstring), cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey (“soft tissue” injury) and Brandon Boykin (undisclosed), offensive tackle Stephane Nembot (undisclosed), linebacker Donald Payne (undisclosed), and defensive back Maurice Canady (knee).

In better news for the Ravens, outside linebacker Tim Williams, wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo, and cornerback Robertson Daniel all returned to the field after missing recent time.

Retired linebacker Zachary Orr was a visitor at practice, sitting with general manager Ozzie Newsome for an extended period of time and receiving enthusiastic hugs from his former teammates and coaches. Head coach John Harbaugh said last week that Orr would have a chance to become a coach or a scout with the organization if he would be interested.

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