The one step the Ravens have before beginning regular season preparations for Denver is finalizing the 53-man roster.
The team is at 75 active spots, with 22 cuts or moves to go.
Here's the last projection I have before the team makes it official. Of course, this projection does not take into account any unforeseen veteran additions after other teams begin releasing players.
Quarterback (2): Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor; Out: Caleb Hanie, Dayne Crist
Analysis: Hanie fared well against the Rams with 272 yards and a touchdown, though it will be hard to keep him on the roster if Taylor can begin the regular season. As it stands now, Hanie's roster spot depends on Taylor's health.
Running back (3): Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, Bobby Rainey; Bubble: Anthony Allen, Delone Carter
Analysis: The Ravens were able cut Rainey and put him on the practice squad a year ago, albeit after a one-week stint on the 53-man roster. They won't be able to do that this time around. Rainey looks like an NFL running back, with a team in need of one surely taking a chance on him if he's available after Saturday. With certain position groups taking a hit due to injuries, Baltimore can probably afford a third running back.
Fullback (2): Vonta Leach, Kyle Juszczyk
Analysis: It still looks like both fullbacks will be on the 53-man roster.
Wide receiver (8): Torrey Smith, Brandon Stokley, Jacoby Jones, Deonte Thompson, LaQuan Williams, Aaron Mellette, Marlon Brown, Tandon Doss.
Analysis: Jones, Thompson, Williams, Mellette, Brown and Doss all bring some element of special teams value -- of course some more than others. That said, there isn't much separation between the receivers after Smith. However, based on the fact that Jones and Stokley didn't play, you'd have to think those two are safe. With the Ravens moving toward more of a passing attack, the idea might be to give Flacco options early in the year and continuing the tryout, so to speak. In my opinion, the final roster spot is coming down to Rainey, one of these receivers and an inside linebacker.
Tight end (3): Ed Dickson, Dallas Clark, Matt Furstenburg; Bubble: Billy Bajema; IR candidate: Dennis Pitta; Out: Alex Silvestro
Analysis: Imagine if Furstenburg was able to haul that one-handed grab in late Thursday night. As it is, that was one heck of an effort. I still think he gets the nod over Bajema. Youth usually trumps experience at a position like tight end, unless your name is Tony Gonzalez.
Offensive line (8): Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, A.Q. Shipley, Rick Wagner, Antoine McClain; Bubble: Jah Reid; IR candidate: Ryan Jensen; Out: Jordan Devey, J.J. 'Unga, Reggie Stephens, Rogers Gaines.
Analysis: Here's a surprise for you. McClain is now in with Reid having to sweat it out for the next couple of days. Here's my reasoning: McClain played all 72 snaps on offense against the Rams. Early on in camp, when Yanda and Ramon Harewood were injured, he filled in with the first-team at right guard. Last night was essentially a tryout for McClain and he got more than enough snaps to prove why he should be brought on.
Defensive line (6): Chris Canty, Arthur Jones, Brandon Williams, Haloti Ngata, Marcus Spears, Terrence Cody. NFI: Kapron Lewis-Moore; Bubble: DeAngelo Tyson; Out: Cody Larsen
Analysis: The Ravens don't like cutting former draft picks but Tyson appears to be an odd man out in this case.
Outside linebacker (5): Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Pernell McPhee, Courtney Upshaw, John Simon; IR: Adrian Hamilton, D.J. Bryant
Analysis: Bryant had a chance to make this team but sustained a season-ending injury. All the rest of the position players currently on the roster should make the 53-man squad.
Inside linebacker (4): Arthur Brown, Daryl Smith, Josh Bynes, Albert McClellan; Bubble: Nigel Carr; PUP: Jameel McClain; Out: Brandon Copeland
Analysis: Carr finished with five total tackles, which included one on special teams. But will it be enough to bring him on board? He still has practice squad eligibility and isn't necessarily a commodity at this point, so he could be someone to bring back on in that role for another year. He still could wind up on the 53-man roster, though I'm leaning toward the Ravens continuing the receiver tryout in the early weeks to open the season.
Cornerback (5): Lardarius Webb, Corey Graham, Jimmy Smith, Chykie Brown, Marc Anthony; Suspended: Asa Jackson.
Analysis: These five corners appear good to go. A decision to bring back Jackson will come midway through the year.
Analysis: Brown stated his case early with a forced fumble that Anthony recovered. He has some special teams value, which is another reason why he makes this team.
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