Going into week 3 of the preseason with a primetime matchup against the Carolina Panthers looming, here is my take on the 53 man active roster for the start of the regular season.
Out: Caleb Hanie
Reasoning: The Ravens seem content to have Taylor as the lone man backing up Flacco, and barring any very unfortunate events, it should be just fine that way.
Out: Damien Berry
Reasoning: Rice and Pierce will be a two headed monster and whoever gets the 3rd RB spot will not have an impact in the running game. Allen edges Rainey and Berry with his excellent special teams play.
Reasoning: Leach will stay at the lead blocking position while Juszczyk could play more of a TE/FB hybrid coming out of the backfield.
Reasoning: The Smith, Jones, and Stokley are the only true locks but the coaching staff thinks highly enough of Thompson that there is no chance he gets cut. The bottom three have no chance to make the team, the only surprise being the lack of development from Streeter. Marlon Brown will be a player who suddenly has a season ending injury that lands him on IR a week before cuts, if you know what I mean. Doss and Reed just do not have enough to contribute to the team to earn themselves a spot over a young player with a better skillset. At some point you have to acknowledge that you missed and move on.
Reasoning: Pitta should be placed on Injured Reserve with the Designated to Return tag. This means he would not count towards the 53 man roster until he returns. Dickson and Clark can both block and receive, which guarantees them spots on the roster. Furstenburg makes the team over Bajema and Shiancoe because the team needs more receiving threats than blockers. His ability to catch underneath passes is far more valuable than a TE who can only block.
Reasoning: This unit, although not playing well, can be very good when all starters are at full health. The backups, listed under "Bubble", and Rick Wagner are all very versatile and are much more refined than those players who will get cut. Jensen is a lock to go on IR with his foot injury.
Reasoning: The defensive line rotation is strong all over and very deep. They have a good combination of pass rushers and run stuffers to be above average in every situation. Lewis-Moore is still recovering from an ACL tear in the national championship game and will not be ready to return this season. Despite Pericak receiving the largest signing bonus of the UDFA's, he has been irrelevant in camp and the preseason.
Reasoning: 7 players are guaranteed positions and playing time at linebacker. There will be 4 inside linebackers and 5 outside linebackers. The versatility of this unit is impressive and is two deep at every position.
Out: Asa Jackson(Suspension)
Reasoning: Asa Jackson is suspended for the first 8 games and needs to prove his worth so he gets a roster spot when he comes back. Webb is the #1, and Smith and Graham are in a heated battle for the #2 corner spot. Brown has been a solid fill in at times and his spot is guaranteed. The most interesting corner battle is between Marc Anthony, 7th round pick, and Moe Lee, undrafted free agent. They are fighting for the last corner spot and Lee gets it only because he has made less mistakes than Anthony.
Reasoning: The real question here is whether Matt Elam or James Ihedigbo will start opposite Michael Huff. Omar Brown is battling with Anthony Levine for the final safety spot. When Christian Thompson returns from suspension it could out Brown's job into question.
Reasoning: No explanation or question here as these three have proven their worth to the team and have no competition.
Final Thoughts:The position battles are very strong throughout the team and as we approach the final two preseason games we will see which players step up and earn their roster spot. Who did I leave out that should be in, and who did I keep that you don't think deserves a spot?