“The Turk” will make an unwelcome appearance to several Ravens this week (Tuesday at the latest) as the team will reduce its roster from 90 players down to 75.
There will be the obvious cuts involving players you have to Google to even know who they are or where they came from, but several that you’ve heard of – bubble players who failed to seize their opportunity – are also likely to be cut. One such player that could fall into the latter category is wide receiver Deonte Thompson.
Thompson, who was signed by the Ravens as a rookie free agent in 2012, has played in just 13 games while being inactive for 22 games (three with a foot injury) including every 2012 postseason game. In 2013, Thompson saw action in seven games, establishing career highs in in receptions (10) and receiving yards (96) and averaged a career-high 28.7 yards per kickoff return (seven for 201 yards).
While Thompson has cranked up his play during the last two preseason games, he didn’t particularly stand out this summer at training camp. Often Thompson dropped way too many footballs when given reps with all three offensive teams, while journeyman wide receiver Kamar Aiken hauled in a ton of passes.
Thompson did flash signs of turning the corner in early August when he made some outstanding grabs in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, yet he had trouble stacking days of catching the football.
The former Florida Gator does excel performing on special teams where his duties have been centered around kickoff returns. Thompson entered Saturday’s game against Washington leading the NFL in kick return yardage (208), kick return average (52.0) and longest kick return (108 yards) in the first two weeks of the preseason, largely in part to his stellar return game against Dallas a week prior.
Will that be enough to save him though in 2014?
The Ravens re-signed Jacoby Jones during the offseason and he is expected to handle the majority of returns barring injury. The team also decided to jump back into the 2014 draft in the seventh round and selected Wake Forest wide receiver Michael Campanaro. Both Thompson and Campanaro took extended reps on Jerry Rosburg’s unit fielding both kickoffs and punts.
One potentially interesting turn of events that may hint to the Ravens’ thinking is this: in the team’s latest press release they list Aiken (Monday) and Campanaro (Tuesday) as scheduled to speak this week following practice (with the caveat that speakers are subject to change).
Maybe I’m reading too much into that little tidbit but they don’t give “air time” to someone like Aiken or Campanaro just hours before the Turk makes his rounds, if they are indeed on his list.
With an already crowded receiving corp consisting of Smith, Smith Sr., Marlon Brown and Jones, Thompson could get the call from the Turk as early as Tuesday, giving him time to catch on with another team.
Time will tell but perhaps the writing is on the wall for Thompson. While his last two preseason games may not have been enough to save his Baltimore career, perhaps they’ll provide some tape for another team looking to jumpstart their return game.
EDIT: It appears as though Deonte’s spot is safe…for now.
Follow me on Twitter @sportguyRSR