Preseason Curtain Call is Hardly Meaningless

Furstenburg Falcons

Waking up with the Ravens, Wednesday, Aug. 28, as they prepare for Thursday’s preseason finale against the Rams.

Two-minute topic: Is this fourth and final preseason game as meaningless as fans paint it out to be?

The final preseason game each year is generally met with a collective yawn by fans. Starters won’t play much, if at all, and to many, it’s a meaningless exercise on the way to the regular-season opener, which this season will be next Thursday, Sept. 5, at Denver.

But is the game meaningless? Not to rookie tight end Matt Furstenburg it’s not. Nor to running back Bobby Rainey. These players sit squarely on the roster bubble, and in Thursday night’s game in St. Louis, they could be playing for their careers.

Granted, some of those ultimately cut by the Ravens could return as practice squad players. Others could earn tryouts with other teams, either this season or in training camp next season. But it’s also possible — likely, in fact — that some will play the last game of their career on Thursday night. Don’t tell them it’s meaningless.

The team has reduced its 90-man training camp roster to 75, and must whittle it again to the final 53-player limit by Saturday at 6 p.m. So for Furstenburg, Rainey and others, the game in St. Louis is their final chance to make a case to be included on the roster.

Most of the roster decisions have already been made, at least internally. But after practice on Tuesday, coach John Harbaugh acknowledged that, “There are a couple guys that, perhaps if they really, really play well, they could really play themselves on, or guys could play themselves off. It’s possible.”

He didn’t name names, of course, but Furstenburg, the former Terp, could be one of those. He is a promising, athletic rookie at a position that — with the injuries to Dennis Pitta (hip) and Ed Dickson (hamstring) — has surprisingly become one of need this preseason.

“Hard work has paid off to survive the first round of cuts,” Furstenburg told the team web site. “I’m just trying to work hard and make the next cuts.”

So is Rainey, the 5-8, 212-pound back who this preseason has had a 58-yard kickoff return and a 60-yard punt return. Rainey made the 53-man roster last season as an undrafted rookie, only to be cut 10 days later and re-signed to the practice squad. So he has been through this agonizing drill before.

““I have to focus more on special teams in order to make this team,” Rainey told the team site. “It’s whatever they ask me to do. If they ask me to go down on kickoffs, I have to go down on kickoffs and make plays. That’s my goal going into this game, is taking a lot of reps on special teams and making plays there.”

19 Raves on “Preseason Curtain Call is Hardly Meaningless

  1. spy on said:

    Furstenburg must make this team as he could become more valuable when we let Dixon go next year (right player=right price),,,,,,,he has the third best hands on the team behind Smith and Brown , he looks much better than Clark who really looks old and slow and soft,,,,,,,,,,,just my opinion……

  2. Ravenwoman on said:

    I think Furstenburg will make the team and unless he drops a ton of passes, and plays poorly, his position is safe for a number of reasons.

    1. Both Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson will be free agents. The Ravens won’t have the money to sign both of them.

    2. Furstenburg is going to be 24. He is young. He still has upside and appears to be coachable. He is one of the faster TEs. He can learn to block better, if that is a weakness. The Ravens can always insert an additional lineman if pass protection is paramount.

    3. Billy Bajema is 30 or 31. He has only caught a handful of passes in his career. The Ravens really will need a (2) TE set in order to attack the middle of the field. While some people say Juice can play TE, that is not his natural position. He is more of a halfback/fullback runner.

    4. Furstenburg fits the salary cap better, he is a rookie and was signed as an undrafted free agent.

    5. He has received too much press and there is too much tape on him to let him go on waivers and think that he won’t be picked up by another team. It would be HORRIBLE if he was picked up by a division opponent or New England, where they have a pressing need for at least one more TE.

    6. I have faith in Ozzie and Harbs to make the right decision here and keep Dickson, Clark and Furstenburg.

      • justafan on said:

        he actually went undrafted more than likely because of the fact that the university of maryland had a horrible qb situation during his tenure. So horrible, that a starting LINE BACKER was playing qb. How do you think that would affect your numbers as a receiver/tight end?

        • Big Perm on said:

          I get it and I already knew that about the QB situation at UMD. Thanks though. But we can’t compare Bart Scott and Danelle Ellerbe to this guy. The Ravens have always been good at finding undrafted LBs. Can’t say the same about TEs. Also, because he had a bad QB makes him good? Thats some good logic. Now I hope he is but I just dont get all of the ridiculous hype. I don’t see it fellas. Keep drinking the Kool-Aid.

          • Oliver Klozov on said:

            Ridiculous Hype? He’s competing for the 3rd TE position. He already beat out Shiancoe. His remaining competition is Clark and Bajema. Clark looks like he can’t catch a cold, and Bajema is a one-dimensional player. How good does he have to be?

          • Big Perm on said:

            He has to be better than Clark and Bajema. I think you answered your own question Oliver. So, why is he listed as the 5th tight end on the depth chart? You shouldn’t judge Clark on the one preseason game. He’s made his career catching tough passes. He’s head and shoulders better that that undrafted kid from MD. Also, I wouldn’t say he beat out Schianco. I think Schianco beat himself. So yes, all this hype over our 5th tight end is ridiculous.

        • g money on said:

          we’ll see. I don’t know if this guy makes the team. if he was the next coming of Shannon Sharpe, like everyone seems to think, he wouldn’t be on the bubble. I like how everyone seems to “know” that keeping him is the right move. I know this, if harbs wants to keep him, its the right move. If he doesn’t, it ain’t! simple as that. one way or the other, we’ll know by Saturday.

          • Big Perm on said:

            Yeah but his QB was terrible, and he’s fast and he played at Maryland, and he’s young, and good players go undrafted all the time, and he has good hands, and… shoot, there is something else… eh whatever.

          • Scott on said:

            When it comes to TEs and Wide Receiver prospects, you can’t look at production. Too many things factor into TDs and Yards that have nothing todo with the actual receiver. If you like Furstenburg, it should be because you see him get open constantly and block consistently.

            Personally, I think he needs some very serious work as a blocker. But, he definetly has real upside as a pass catcher. Borderline player, to me.

  3. g money on said:

    i hope he turns out to be a great player for us, but making a couple catches doesn’t make you an NFL player. The coaches see this guy day in and day out, so i trust their judgment completely. You also have to factor in the level of competition he is seeing on a daily basis. If the coaches feel like he deserves time with the ones, he would have gotten it. I could run a slant and beat Moe Lee for a TD.

  4. Tight Ends on said:

    Don’t count out Clark based on last game since he’s only been with team a short time and hasn’t been given a chance yet. He came into the NFL the same year as Q Boldin — in the 2003 draft. And just a few years ago he had 100 catches, which is very rare for a tight end. He was Peyton Manning’s go-to guy for a reason.

    We have to trust in Ozzie, Harbs and Caldwell. Furst looks great to us, but does he look great to those guys? We’ll see. Same with Marlon.

  5. Josh on said:

    I happen to be a terp fan, Mr. Perp and Furstenberg can be a pretty good tight end in his league. As it was mentioned above, his production was pretty limited because of the fact the terrapins did not have a reliable QB under center. You can’t expect a tight end to be productive when one QB after another are dropping like flies. He can get open and catch the ball real well. Basing off on just him being “undrafted free agent for a reason” doesn’t really mean much. I mean why don’t you ask Arian Foster and see if that meant something.

    • Big Perm on said:

      Josh, So now he’s the next Arian Foster? Stop with those comparisons. You sound ridiculous.
      Answer me this. How many players are signed as undrafted rookie free agents, and how many Arian Fosters are there? I’m glad that YOU think he can be a good tight end in this league, but I need to see a little more than a couple passes against back up defenses in preseason football.

      • Mostly Unbiased on said:

        I am pretty sure he is not saying is going to become a top 3 player in his position like Foster, he is simply refuting your claim of “he went undrafted for a reason”. Antonio Gates, Wes Welker, Victor Cruz, & Priest Holmes (an Ozzie find) were all undrafted and have been more than impact players. He seems to have enough talent, skill, & salary cap friendliness to not only deserve a spot on the team/practice squad, but an oppurtunity to show that he can at least contribute and possibly become a star.

    • g money on said:

      haha. you are funny big man. I guess we have the next arian foster on our hands? arian fosters don’t come around that often. He is still the 5th on the depth chart as of right now.

  6. g money on said:

    and Oliver, this BS is definitely ridiculous hype. He has gotten no work whatsoever with the 1s and he is currently #5 on the depth chart. Yet because he is from MD and he caught a couple of passes against nobody in the preseason everyone thinks this guy is the next Tony Gonzalez. I hope he catches 70 passes this season for 800 yds and 5tds, but we ALL know that is silly beyond our wildest dreams. And with regard to Clark not being able to catch a cold, no veteran player in this league is catching that ball over the middle in the preseason and exposing himself to unnecessary punishment.

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