RAVENS ROSTER MOVES WON’T BE EASY IN ’06

Lombardi's Way RAVENS ROSTER MOVES WON’T BE EASY IN ’06

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During prior summer camps, Brian Billick would without hesitation declare how many spots were open on the team’s 53 man roster.  Sure, help was wanted but the job postings were few.  The intent I suppose was to motivate the masses that were competing for less than a handful of positions.
 
I never did understand the logic in that.  It’s not as though players on the bubble need additional motivation to make the final cut.  After all their livelihoods are at stake and if a marginal player needs to be motivated in such a cheesy way, then he’s probably not worthy of making the team anyway, right?
 
That’s how I see it.
 
This year, Billick hasn’t even whispered such nonsense.  Maybe that’s part of the Bisciotti mandate.  Maybe Billick realized that his declarations were nothing more than unnecessary arrogance.  Maybe he just recognizes that the competition for the final 53 is as fierce as it has ever been during his tenure and he recognizes that the players don’t have to be reminded of their tenuous situations.
 
“All they have to do is turn on the television, listen to the bubble this and bubble that with the other teams. They look at the numbers. If you have to emphasize that to them, I think they’ve already missed the point.”
 
The players can also look to websites and the local papers to gauge their bubble positions.
 
In an article found in The Sun this past Sunday, Jamison Hensley dissected the Ravens’ current roster and broke it down into three categories: 1. “In”; 2. “On the bubble”; and 3. “Long shot.”
 
Hensley listed 23 offensive players as “In” along with 20 defensive players and 3 special teams players for a total of 46 players.  Now keep in mind, the list did not include a punter and despite the Ravens’ improved offense, they’ll still need one.  So make that 47 players as “In.”
 
That leaves 6 open positions to reach the 53 man roster.
 
By this coming Tuesday, August 29, the Ravens will have to trim their roster size from the current list of 84 to 75 players.  That should be relatively easy.  Getting down to 53 will not be!  Perhaps a few of the cuts will fly under the radar screen of other clubs and they will successfully land on the Ravens’ practice squad.  Time will tell.
 
But until that time, let’s take a look at where the Ravens are today beginning with Hensley’s list:
 
Position
Who’s In
On the bubble
Long shot
QB
McNair, Boller
St.Pierre, Olson
None
RB
Lewis, Anderson, Smith
Daniels
None
FB
Green, Mughelli
None
None
OL
Ogden, Mulitalo, Flynn, Vincent, Pashos, Terry, Chester, Brown
Rimpf, Szalay
Roper, Droege, Kracalik
TE
Heap, Wilcox, Sypniewski
None
Abiamiri, Blizzard
WR
Mason, Clayton, Darling, Williams, Moore
None
Bryant, Bratton, Skillern, LaTendresse, Cherry
DL
Gregg, Pryce, Ngata, Franklin, Bannan, Edwards
None
Leaders, B. Thomas, Ayodele
LB
Lewis, Suggs, A. Thomas, Scott, J. Johnson, Cody, Stills
T. Johnson, Smith, Green, Haley, LaCasse
Cottrell
CB
McAlister, Rolle, Ivy, Pittman
Prude, Martin, Oglesby
Thompson
S
Reed, Landry, Sapp
Ward, Winborne, Butler
Paris, James
K
Stover
None
None
P
None
Koch, Araguz
None
RS
Sams
Ross
None
LS
Katula
None
Schrage
KO
None
Elling, Koch
None
 
Generally speaking, I agree with most of Hensley’s choices.  There are however two that jump off the page at me: Clarence Moore and Mike Smith.
 
Moore is a bit of an enigma.  Here’s a player who is a physical freak of sorts who with the proper coaching can be a red zone force.  Maybe new receivers coach Mike Johnson can help where former receivers coach David Shaw could not. 
 
But here’s the trouble with Moore.  He avoids contact like a vampire avoids sunlight.  As a result, sending him on patterns across the middle is useless and he offers very little value on special teams. 
 
Is such a one dimensional player worthy of a roster spot?  Can he consistently provide something that Devard Darling and Demetrius Williams cannot?  Is his promise worth sacrificing a player on the bubble?
 
As for Mike Smith, he’s done far too much to warrant a spot on the bubble.  He’s a fiery player who plays with passion, places the team’s needs before his, studies the game and has improved significantly from his rookie season when he was active for six games.  Plus his teammates view him as a player on the come. 
 
If Mike Smith isn’t on the Ravens final 53, what an egregious mistake that would be!
 
So add Smith to that list of 47 and now we’re down to 5 available spots if you accept Hensley’s opinion that Clarence Moore is in.
 
The players who deserve the most serious consideration for the remaining 5 roster vacancies in no particular order are in bold letters above.
 
Watch these players over the next two games.  Draw your own conclusions.  It’s still early and much can happen over the next two weeks but if today was September 2nd and my name was Ozzie Newsome, the fate of the players in bold listed above would go as follows:
 
Cut: Tim Johnson, Jamaine Winborne, kick off specialist
 
Practice Squad: Drew Olson, Derrick Martin, Cory Ross, Ryan LaCasse, Evan Oglesby 
 
IR: Brian Rimpf
 
Welcome to the 2006 Ravens: Brian St. Pierre, P.J. Daniels, Roderick Green, Ronnie Prude and B.J. Ward.
 
For those who survive "The Turk", have a great season.  Those who feel the razor’s edge, may you prosper elsewhere.  Update those resumes and be sure the Ravens have one on file. 
 
There will be other openings in the future.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24×7 Networks, LLC’s founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and he hosts “The Fanimal” also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi.

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