By tomorrow at 4PM the Ravens have to pair their roster down from 75 to the league mandated 53. To put that into perspective, 29.3% of the roster eligible to take the field last night will be gone in less than 48 hours.
Jobs will be lost.
Dreams will be derailed.
New opportunities may also surface.
Players on the 53-man roster tomorrow at 4PM can’t necessarily feel comfortable. Some hopefuls shed from other rosters may be attractive to the Ravens. A receiver, tight end or offensive lineman could suddenly become available and those players that bring up the rear of the initial 53 are still in jeopardy until kickoff time in Denver next Thursday.
Ringo Starr’s “It don’t come easy!” comes to mind.
It’s also not easy to get a clear read on the preseason. Last night one of the most popular preseason players ever to wear a Ravens uniform would not be denied. His relentlessness embodies the credo, “Play Like a Raven.” Unfortunately given the composition of the team’s roster, there’s a good chance that Bobby Rainey won’t be a Raven when the sun sets on Saturday.
As obvious as it is that he would be the best replacement for Ray Rice should Rice or even back-up Bernard Pierce miss playing time, he just doesn’t fill a need. The Ravens have players that are better on special teams and for someone that won’t see playing time in Jim Caldwell’s offense it’s difficult to justify a spot for the sparkplug from Western Kentucky.
Rainey’s chances to stick may be discovered during film study by the coaches. If they find that someone can match Anthony Allen’s special teams play, Rainey’s chances improve.
Clearly the coaches have their work cut out for them and they’ll be burning the midnight oil between roster configurations and preparing for Peyton Manning & Co. at Mile High, just six days away.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Prior to, and including, the first cut down date, injured players with less than four years of service cannot go onto IR until they pass through waivers. Those players are released with the “waived/injured” designation. Known as “injury waivers,” this process exposes the player to waivers, but warns other teams that the player is injured. If the player clears injury waivers, the team can then either place the player on IR or agree to an injury settlement (paying the player for the weeks that he is expected to be recovering from his injury) and then release the player…The number beside the position is the number of players the Ravens typically carry at that spot.
Without further ado, here’s my projected 53-man roster prior to any acquisitions made after 4PM on Saturday.
IN (2): Joe Flacco; Tyrod Taylor
OUT: Caleb Hanie had me temporarily missing Kyle Boller. He’ll be available at any time for the Ravens to pick up if needed. Hopefully he won’t be!
RUNNING BACK (4)
IN (5): Ray Rice; Bernard Pierce; Vonta Leach; Kyle Juszczyk; Anthony Allen
OUT: Bobby Rainey; Delone Carter
NOTE: If Juszczyk wasn’t a 4th round pick he might be a practice squad candidate but he’d never pass through waivers. The Ravens lack of depth at tight end also saves Juszczyk since he can play there in a pinch. He could become Rainey’s best friend if coaches determine that he can handle the special teams duties normally assigned to Allen.
WIDE RECEIVER (6)
IN (7): Torrey Smith; Jacoby Jones; Brandon Stokley; Marlon Brown; Aaron Mellette; Tandon Doss; LaQuan Williams
IR: Deonte Thompson
NOTES: It is highly unusual for the Ravens to carry 7 WR’s. Williams’ relative absence from last night’s game can be interpreted in two ways. He’s either in solely based on his special teams or his skills at WR are so suspect that there’s no point in playing him there. Go with the former…
TIGHT END (3)
IN (3): Ed Dickson; Dallas Clark; Matt Furstenburg
OUT: Billy Bajema
NOTES: The roster gamesmanship with this position will help to offset the overload at running back. Furstenburg may have helped the Ravens coaching staff with his inability to make plays last night. The performance improves his chances of sliding through waivers and eventually onto the team’s practice squad but for now, he’s in…Billy Bajema could be brought back after game 1. In doing so the Ravens would not have to guarantee the vested veteran’s salary for the entire season…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.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9)
IN (8): Bryant McKinnie; Kelechi Osemele; Gino Gradkowski; Marshal Yanda; Michael Oher; Jah Reid; A.Q. Shipley; Ricky Wagner.
IR: Ryan Jensen
NOTES: The 9th spot on the offensive line is probably on another team’s roster right now. Look for an interior lineman with the ability to play both guard and center to occupy the final job opening here. The Ravens could wait until Week 2 to make such a move again, to avoid guaranteeing a season’s worth of salary.