Cut down day looms. By Tuesday, August 27 at 4PM, NFL rosters need to be trimmed from 90 to 75.
This isn’t the cut down day that players dread. That one arrives on August 31 when 22 more players must be let go in order to get down to the league mandated 53-man roster.
Some of you may remember “The Turk” – the team intern made popular when the Baltimore Ravens were featured in the very first season of HBO’s Hard Knocks. The Turk will tell you that most of the time the players aren’t surprised (particularly those who lose their jobs on the first cut down day) when that knock on their door arrives along with a request to return their team issued iPad containing the playbook.
It’s a numbers game that doesn’t require rocket science. The players can do the math. They know based on the number of practice reps and preseason game reps where they stand in the pecking order.
After three preseason games some will say that the Ravens first team units haven’t done much. They would be wrong. But really preseason games are to help teams shape their depth – to build their rosters from the bottom up and given the level of difficulty of the cuts coming up on August 31, that suggests that the Ravens will have quality depth in 2013.
Based upon the practices open to the media and the preseason games to date here is the fourth 53-man projection.
NOTE: The actual number of “IN’s” don’t equal 53 due to positional battles that are far from decided. The number shown next to the position represents the number of players typically retained by the Ravens at that position. The number next to the word “IN” is strictly my opinion.
IN (2): Joe Flacco; Tyrod Taylor
OUT: Caleb Hanie only played in Thursday night’s contest against the Carolina Panthers because there were concerns that Tyrod Taylor had suffered a concussion. Suppose Taylor is officially diagnosed with a concussion and he doesn’t pass the league-mandated battery of tests to clear him for play? Could that knock to the head actually force the Ravens to keep Hanie on the Final 53 for one regular season game?
RUNNING BACK (4)
IN (4): Ray Rice; Bernard Pierce; Vonta Leach; Kyle Juszczyk
BUBBLE: Damien Berry, Bobby Rainey, Delone Carter, Anthony Allen
NOTE: This is a logjam. An argument could be made for any of these backs to stick on the 53. It may come down to options. Neither Carter nor Allen is practice squad eligible. Berry and Rainey are but they would first have to pass through waivers.
WIDE RECEIVER (6)
IN (4): Torrey Smith; Jacoby Jones; Brandon Stokley; Marlon Brown
BUBBLE: Tandon Doss; LaQuan Williams; Aaron Mellette;
OUT: Tommy Streeter
IR: Deonte Thompson
NOTES: Mellette has probably shown up a little too much in the preseason to slide through waivers and land on the practice squad. Williams made be needed by special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg. David Reed’s departure via trade provided some daylight for Williams or perhaps another bubble player who makes the 53 based on teams play…Doss has never capitalized on his opportunities and is a disappointment on the level of previous Ravens WR mid-round busts like Devard Darling, Marcus Smith and Demetrius Williams.
TIGHT END (3)
IN (2): Ed Dickson; Dallas Clark;
BUBBLE: Matt Furstenburg; Visanthe Shiancoe; Billy Bajema
NOTES: Dennis Pitta because he didn’t start the season on PUP isn’t eligible. If reports are true that Pitta has the possibility of returning later in the season the Ravens essentially have two options: 1) Place him on the active 53; or 2) Place him on IR “designated to return” like the Ravens did with Ray Lewis last season. Keep in mind that such a designation can be used only once each season, making this roster decision particularly interesting…Billy Bajema is said to be the team’s best blocking tight end but that is a relative description and doesn’t necessarily mean he CAN block. Describing him as such is really an indictment upon the group’s blocking abilities.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9)
IN (8): Bryant McKinnie; Kelechi Osemele; Gino Gradkowski; Marshal Yanda; Michael Oher; Jah Reid; A.Q. Shipley; Ricky Wagner.
BUBBLE: Ramon Harewood
PRACTICE SQUAD: David Mims; Roger Gaines; Jack Cornell
IR: Ryan Jensen
NOTES: Only Jah Reid’s draft status (2011 3rd Round Pick) saves him this season…Many have speculated that the Ravens will use some of their available cap space to land another receiver. And while that may be true, don’t be surprised if the Ravens pick up a swing offensive lineman capable of playing multiple positions – perhaps someone cut from another club with whom assistant coach Juan Castillo is familiar.
DEFENSIVE LINE (8)
IN (8): Haloti Ngata; Art Jones; Chris Canty; Pernell McPhee; Marcus Spears; Brandon Williams; DeAngelo Tyson; Terrence Cody
IR: Kapron Lewis-Moore
IN (8): Terrell Suggs; Elvis Dumervil; Arthur Brown; Daryl Smith; Courtney Upshaw; John Simon; Albert McClellan; Josh Bynes
BUBBLE: Bryan Hall
PRACTICE SQUAD: Brandon Copeland; Nigel Carr
PUP: Jameel McClain
IR: Adrian Hamilton
NOTE: Hamilton was seen with his right arm in a sling yesterday and that could mean his wrist injury may be more severe than originally expected. If the recovery is just a few weeks, Hamilton could get the 9th spot at this position.
IN (3): Michael Huff; Matt Elam; James Ihedigbo
BUBBLE: Omar Brown; Brynden Trawick, Anthony Levine
SUSPENSION: Christian Thompson
NOTE: An outstanding game on the special teams unit by one of the bubble guys could convince John Harbaugh to keep four safeties.
IN (4): Lardarius Webb; Jimmy Smith; Corey Graham; Chykie Brown;
BUBBLE: Marc Anthony; Moe Lee
SUSPENSION (Not Part of 53): Asa Jackson
IN (3): Sam Koch; Justin Tucker; Morgan Cox
This projection lists 46 players as “IN” with another 17 players on the bubble competing for the other 7 roster spots. Game 4 of the preseason is always one that heavily influences the bottom of the roster. In 1 week we’ll find out who made it to the final 53 but even then, those last few are not safe because it is highly likely a player or more from another roster will be attractive to Ozzie Newsome and his scouting staff.