The Ravens have set their 53-man roster and 10-man practice squad as we are just days away from Baltimore’s Week 1 matchup with Denver. In a weekend that is always nerve racking for rookies, fifth-round draft choice Robert Myers was waived as part of the final cuts in a somewhat surprising decision, considering how diligently the team tries to retain its draft picks.
On the other side of the coin, despite the initial absence of any undrafted rookie free agents on the roster, the Ravens signed running back Terrence Magee to the 53-man squad this morning. This move continues the team’s 11-year streak of opening the season with such a player on board.
So after the preseason finale and with a more settled roster, let’s take a look at what we know and what we don’t know about the 2015 rookies heading into the Regular Season:
What We Know
- Carl Davis is a Stud
Increasingly the star of Rookie Report, Carl Davis further cemented his status as a third round steal with another stout performance against the Redskins last week. Davis is a versatile defensive lineman who has flashed quality technique and instincts throughout the preseason. Look for this training camp’s most impressive rookie to earn a fair number of important snaps in Denver.
- Special Teams Contributors
With an active game day roster of just 46 players, an often overlooked challenge that NFL coaches face is fleshing out a quality special team unit. The Ravens, like most teams, often stock coverage and return units with younger players, and this year’s rookies look built to fill those roles. Za’Darius Smith, Nick Boyle, Buck Allen, and Magee all figure to get opportunities to prove their value on special teams. In close games, sometimes a shoestring tackle on a punt return or a crushing block on a kickoff can mean the difference between a win and a loss.
What We Don’t Know
- Perriman’s Status
The safe bet is that Breshad Perriman will miss Week 1 due to his ongoing recovery from a PCL sprain. He has yet to see the practice field, so it is hard to imagine that the first-round pick will contribute on Sundays until he practices—a reality that John Harbaugh went out of his way to echo during his presser this afternoon.
Perriman’s absence is notable due to the dearth of deep threat options among the receiver corps, which may allow defenses to squat on running plays and attack downhill by compressing the field in the short and intermediate passing game.
- Who Has Earned the Coaches’ Trust?
Several rookies made the roster at key positions, but which young Ravens have earned the coaches’ faith—and thereby deserve meaningful playing time this weekend? There is a good chance that some rookies will be inactive Sunday, but it will be interesting to see who is given an opportunity to make an impact.
Will the coaches look past Allen’s pedestrian preseason and give him a fair share of carries in the absence of second-string back Lorenzo Taliaferro? Does Baltimore see enough in Z.Smith to let him rush the passer when the top three outside linebackers need rest? Which tight end—Maxx Williams or Boyle—will get more snaps? In a pinch, would the coaches trust Tray Walker to step in when the Broncos employ multi-receiver sets, or would they rather lean on a more experienced safety or linebacker to fill that pass-defense role? Could Magee earn the nod as the kick returner?
We’ll be back next week with answers to many of these questions as we analyze all the rookie action from the season opener. Enjoy the return of football, and as always, Go Birds!