August 9, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons defensive back Dominique Franks (24) is forced out of bounds on a long punt return by Baltimore Ravens punter Sam Koch (4) in the first half at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
The Baltimore Ravens are a veteran NFL team that has been fighting for a Super Bowl berth in the post season in each of the past four seasons and 2012 figures to be no different. The roster may have a couple of big name veterans on the outer edges of great NFL careers, but for the most part, the vets on the team are still on the "good" side of 30 years old.
That is good for the current players whose roster spots are virtually guaranteed, but it becomes tough for the new guys to crack into the starting lineup, much less make the 53-man final roster for opening day. While most teams have a healthy chunk of spots open, you can probably count the spots open on the Ravens roster on one hand.
Position battles will come down to performance, but starting positions are not really up for grabs. The depth on this team was evident in last night's dominating performance by the reserves in the 2nd half of the Ravens 31-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Guys who will hoping to secure a position on the final roster need to shine not only in their few opportunities during these exhibition games, but in front of their coaches at practice.
Players such as RB Bobby Rainey, WR Deonte Thompson, S Omar Brown and QB Curtis Painter stepped it up big time last night and everyone noticed. But the guys who underwhelmed coaches and were quickly forgotten by fans are the ones to begin to get worried. RB's Anthony Allen and Damien Berry did little to impress. Third round draft pick Bernard Pierce did not play but is still virtually guaranteed to be on the team come September.
Special Teams gave up a long return and the guys who will need to make it onto the roster this way certainly did not add to their own personal resumes last night. Offensive and defensive linemen, secondary players and linebackers will all need to separate themselves from their teammates in the remaining three exhibition games and on the practice field at the Owings Mills Under Armour Performance Center.
Otherwise, they will shortly find themselves getting called down to the coach's office by the guy known as "The Turk," who will tell them to bring their playbook. This is their final meeting before being put onto a plane back to their hometowns to get in a different sort of unemployment line, one they all fear and want to avoid at all costs. The first opportunity is over, so now they must impress with what is left on their schedule.
See a related story on BaltimoreRavens.com.