Predicting The 53-Man Roster: Week 3

Could Aaron Mellette wind up being the seventh receiver on Baltimore's roster? - Patrick McDermott

Once again, here's the latest 53-man roster prediction after another week of training camp.

We won't fully know what the Ravens are working with until Thursday's preseason game against Tampa Bay.

Sure, some players have separated each other in the many practices the organization's held since opening training camp. But it's the games that ultimately leave a lasting impression.

LaQuan Williams, Albert McClellan and, to an extent, Bobby Rainey, have all been examples of this. All three players, in recent years, came out of camp on the 53-man rosters by showing what they can do in the preseason -- Williams and McClellan in 2011 and Rainey in 2012, though Rainey was replaced on the 53-man roster by Anthony Allen just a week later.

This is the time when players earn their spots, not through what they can accomplish in practice.

But since practice is all we have to go on for now, here's the latest 53-man projection, now in its third week:

Quarterback (2): Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor; Out: Caleb Hanie

Analysis: This position group remains the same. There's a clear tier level between each quarterback, with an even bigger drop-off from Taylor to Hanie.

Running back (2): Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce; Bubble: Anthony Allen, Bobby Rainey; Out: Damien Berry

Analysis: Allen makes this roster if he can prove the Ravens are unable to replace him as a lead blocker on special teams returns. Otherwise, with fullback Kyle Juszczyk able to play special teams, Allen becomes expendable.

Fullback (2): Vonta Leach, Kyle Juszczyk

Analysis: The Ravens will go with two fullbacks and both will play a different role. However, the preseason will show what Juszczyk can do as he has not worked much with the first team since Leach re-signed with the organization.

Wide receiver (7): Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson, David Reed, LaQuan Williams, Aaron Mellette; Bubble: Marlon Brown; Out: Tommy Streeter, Gerrard Sheppard, Rashaad Carter, Marcus Rivers

Analysis: For now, the Ravens open the year with seven receivers, considering there are two suspensions at secondary positions that don't necessarily need the added depth. It would appear Williams, Mellette and Brown are fighting for the last two roster spots, if in fact the Ravens go with seven receivers. Williams gets an edge due to experience and Mellette, for now, gets the nod due to being a draft pick. But Brown's 6-5 stature, fluid route-running ability and ability to play multiple receiver positions makes him extremely intriguing to watch during the upcoming preseason games. With Reed injuring his groin, Brown has worked his way into the second-team group with just a handful of practices. Brown, who tore his ACL last November, hasn't experienced any lingering effects of the injury either.

Tight end (3): Ed Dickson, Billy Bajema, Visanthe Shiancoe; Bubble: Matt Furstenburg; IR: Dennis Pitta; Out: Alex Silvestro

Analysis: Furstenburg understands how important this first preseason game will be. If he can prove he's on par with Shiancoe, then perhaps the Ravens give him the nod over the veteran. But Shiancoe, at 33, is in shape and has been the first-team tight end with Dickson nursing a partially torn hamstring. That will certainly be a battle to watch over the next few weeks.

Offensive line (9): Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, A.Q. Shipley, Ricky Wagner, Jah Reid, Ramon Harewood; IR Candidate: Ryan Jensen; Out: David Mims, Jordan Devey, Antoine McClain, Jack Cornell, J.J. 'Unga, Reggie Stephens, Rogers Gaines, Jack Cornell.

Analysis: I have the Ravens going with nine linemen as opposed to eight, which I had in the first two projections. It looks like the Ravens want Harewood backing up Yanda at right guard and Reid backing up Osemele at left guard. Harewood will probably start Thursday night as Yanda continues to rehab his surgically repaired shoulder. That alone leaves me to believe that Harewood is safe, barring a bad showing in games.

Defensive line (6): Chris Canty, Arthur Jones, Brandon Williams, Haloti Ngata, Marcus Spears, DeAngelo Tyson; Bubble: Terrence Cody; IR candidate: Kapron Lewis-Moore; Out: Will Pericak, Cody Larsen

Analysis: Cody remains on the bubble, with Thursday's game being a chance for him to show he's improved against other competition. Cody's showed some fire in practice during camp but he hasn't returned to his 2011 form, where he was a regular starter getting a push along the defensive front.

Outside linebacker (6): Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Pernell McPhee, Courtney Upshaw, John Simon, Adrian Hamilton; Out: D.J. Bryant, Meshak Williams


Analysis: No changes here as this looks to be one of the top outside linebacking units in the NFL. The top three players at the position will all see valuable playing time during the regular season.

Inside linebacker (4): Arthur Brown, Daryl Smith, Josh Bynes, Albert McClellan; PUP: Jameel McClain; Bubble: Bryan Hall, Nigel Carr; Out: Brandon Copeland

Analysis: With McClain still unable to practice, he very well could begin the year on the physically unable to perform list, which wouldn't count against the 53-man roster. Therefore, the Ravens can initially use that spot for another position and make a roster move when the time comes for McClain to come back. Then again, there's a risk that McClain won't get cleared, as his spinal cord contusion needs to be completely healed. But for now, there's certainly a chance McClain could open the year on either PUP or IR-designated to return.

Cornerback (5): Lardarius Webb, Corey Graham, Jimmy Smith, Chykie Brown, Marc Anthony; Suspended: Asa Jackson; Bubble: Moe Lee, Chris Johnson

Analysis: Baltimore's top four corners have all practiced like they're worthy of starting. Anthony is someone to look out for in camp as he's shown some athleticism and range. Jackson won't be counted against the 53-man roster for Baltimore's first eight games, opening up a roster spot elsewhere. He also has an uphill battle to work his way back onto the roster once his suspension ends. If Lee and Johnson want a 53-man roster spot, they'll have to prove it during preseason games.

Safety (4): Michael Huff, Matt Elam, James Ihedigbo, Omar Brown; Suspended: Christian Thompson; Out: Anthony Levine, Brynden Trawick, Gary Walker

Analysis: Brown has done plenty in practice to prove he belongs on the roster. Now he has to continue his level of play into the presesaon games. Brown fell just short a year ago but finished the season with the team after a long stint on the practice squad. With Thompson suspended for the first four games due to a substance abuse policy violation, Brown should open the season on the 53-man roster. The Ravens will then have a decision to make after four games.

Special teams (3): Sam Koch, Justin Tucker, Morgan Cox

Analysis: The "Wolf Pack" have enjoyed themselves through camp, with no competition and little pressure. Tucker, in particular, has been extremely loose, booming field goals from over 60 yards away. Koch's placement inside the red zone has been impressive as well.

Follow me on twitter: @JasonHButt

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