John Harbaugh and his staff will be forced to make plenty of difficult decisions as the 53-man roster deadline (August 31st at 6:00 p.m.) approaches. Within a matter of four days from initial cuts (August 27th) the Ravens will have to trim their roster by 37 players, likely cutting even more contributors from last season’s Super Bowl team.
One key contributor that could find himself out of a job is running back Anthony Allen, who seemingly had no value out of the Ravens backfield, but was a big reason Jacoby Jones was named to the Pro Bowl as a kick returner. In fact, Jones mentioned that, in addition to his mother, Allen would have joined him on his trip to Honolulu had the Ravens not appeared in the Super Bowl.
Unfortunately for Allen, the Ravens are still a team that relies on fullbacks, and he’s currently a part of a team that will carry two of them the entire season on the 53-man roster, barring injury.
Drafted out of Harvard in the fourth-round, fullback Kyle Juszczyk is a versatile player, not only blocking out of the backfield but displaying tremendous hands as well.
One area of Juszczyk’s game that has been solid is his special teams contributions; that’s the reason Allen could be given the dreaded pink slip.
“Kyle is playing on all four special teams (kickoff return/coverage and punt return/coverage) in the preseason,” special teams coach Jerry Rosburg said. “We use him very much like we use other running back/linebackers types, even though he’s a fullback by trade. He can run down the field and make a tackle in space. It’s not unique to fullbacks, but there aren’t that many fullbacks that can do that, and he’s off to a good start.”
Rosburg also indicated that there wasn’t much of a difference in what Juszczyk and Allen did on special teams.
“[Juszczyk] is working at the position opposite Anthony Allen,” he said. “So, those two guys are very much interchangeable.”
Last season, Allen only saw the field as a runner in mop-up duty, totaling 16 carries for 61 yards and touchdown during situations where the Ravens didn’t want to risk injury to running backs Ray Rice or Bernard Pierce. If/when those situations present themselves this season, Juszczyk should be able to assume that workload if necessary.
Allen should survive the first round of cuts on August 27th as the starters will likely not play many, if any, snaps during the final preseason game next Thursday. Jacoby may not want to hear this, but after that, it doesn’t look good for the former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket.
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