With Ravens rookies, quarterbacks and injured veterans reporting to training camp Sunday, the 2013 NFL season in Baltimore is now underway.
The first practice session, at least available to the media, isn't taking place until Tuesday. Even so, now is a good time to start tracking what the 53-man roster could possibly look like when it's all said and done.
As of now, 90 players are on the roster, and of course a lot of decisions will have to be made through the process of training camp.
Some decisions will be easier than others. And in some cases, Baltimore may end up cutting a player with 53-man roster talent. But the Ravens will have to make these decisions with practicality and decide what's best, in their eyes, for the upcoming season.
Without further ado, here's the first 53-man roster prediction:
Quarterback (2): Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor; Out: Caleb Hanie
Analysis: In recent years, the Ravens have gone with just two quarterbacks and that likely won't change for 2013. The Ravens do think Hanie's capable as a backup quarterback, but he'll have to unseat Taylor, who has a clear understanding of the offense with two seasons under his belt. With Flacco never missing a game in five years, durability isn't a problem. Therefore, keeping three quarterbacks could be seen as wasting a roster spot elsewhere.
Running back (3): Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, Anthony Allen; Bubble: Bobby Rainey; Out: Damien Berry
Analysis: Rice and Pierce will be a powerful one-two punch on offense and should give opposing teams plenty of problems. The Ravens will likely keep Allen based on his ability to play special teams. He was Jacoby Jones' lead blocker on kickoffs a year ago, springing him into the Pro Bowl. Rainey, who can be used as a receiver and runner, is a bubble player for now. He made the 53-man roster after camp ended a year ago, though the Ravens second-guessed themselves and replaced him with Allen just before the season-opener. Rainey spent time on both the practice squad and 53-man roster before ending the year on IR.
Fullback (1): Kyle Juszczyk
Juszczyk is the only fullback on the roster and will be the only one to play the position in 2013, unless the Ravens wind up with Vonta Leach again. Assuming it's just Juszczyk, he'll do what Leach did last year, plus have the opportunity to be a more involved with the passing game.
Wide receiver (6): Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Tandon Doss, David Reed, Aaron Mellette, Tommy Streeter; IR candidate: Marlon Brown; Bubble: LaQuan Williams, Deonte Thompson; Out: Gerrard Sheppard, Rashaad Carter, Marcus Rivers, Omarius Hines.
Smith, Jones and Doss are safe. Reed is probably 75 percent safe, based on his ability to back up Jones as a kickoff and punt return specialist (or take over at the role with Jones becoming the No. 2 receiver.) Mellette and Streeter are hovering at the 50 percent mark, but receive the edge because they were Ravens draft picks. That unfortunately means bad things for Williams and Thompson, who both spent 2012 on the 53-man roster (Williams also made the 2011 team). Thompson was Baltimore's kickoff returner a year ago until he fumbled against Kansas City, which gave Jones the opportunity to take over at the position. Brown could be this year's Streeter -- a big target at receiver that begins the year on injured reserve. Brown, a University of Georgia product, tore his ACL late last year in a game against Mississippi. A former five-star prospect out of high school, Brown is still a raw talent with untapped potential.
Offensive line (8): Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, Ryan Jensen, Ricky Wagner, Jah Reid; Bubble: Ramon Harewood, David Mims; Out: Jordan Devey, AQ Shipley, Antoine McClain, Jack Cornell, Joe Unga, Reggie Stephens
Analysis: With the Ravens set along the offensive line, there may not be a need to keep more than eight players. In addition, players such as McClain and Cornell could go back on the practice squad in case of an emergency. Jensen, Wagner and Reid are strictly backup players at this point and can play multiple positions, indicating another reason why the Ravens won't need to keep as many on the line as they have in the past. Harewood began 2012 as a starter at left guard but didn't take his demotion during the season very well. This could give Baltimore a reason to part ways by the end of training camp.
Tight end (3): Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, Billy Bajema; Bubble: Matt Furstenburg; Out: Alex Silvestro
Analysis: The Ravens went with Pitta, Dickson and Bajema a year ago and should be expected to do the same at this time. The only way this position group changes is if Furstenburg beats out Bajema for the third tight end spot. Furstenburg, a rookie out of Maryland, received one of the better undrafted free agent deals on the team, and could be given every chance to make this roster. Alex Silvestro is a candidate to re-join Baltimore's practice squad.
Defensive line (7): Chris Canty, Arthur Jones, Brandon Williams, Haloti Ngata, Marcus Spears, DeAngelo Tyson, Terrence Cody; IR candidate: Kapron Lewis-Moore; Out: Will Pericak, Cody Larsen
Analysis: Five linemen appear to be locks in Canty, Ngata, Jones, Williams and Spears. Tyson will likely have a spot once again. You can make a case Cody is on the bubble, though there are only two true nose tackles on the roster with him and Williams (Ngata is expected to rotate in at nose tackle some this year.) The Ravens prefer depth though, which is why they very well could carry seven linemen heading into the season. The Ravens drafted Lewis-Moore in the sixth round and will probably give him the year off so he can fully rehab the torn ACL he sustained in the BCS National Championship.
Outside linebacker (5): Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Pernell McPhee, Courtney Upshaw, John Simon; Bubble: Adrian Hamilton, Spencer Adkins; Out: D.J. Bryant, Meshak Williams
Analysis: Suggs, Dumervil, McPhee, Upshaw and Simon are locks at this time. Hamilton's inclusion could come down to the last minute, because of his upside as a pass-rusher, as well as his ability to play on special teams. He's a player the Ravens are high on, but can he actually gain playing time ahead of those in front of him? Adkins, who played with Atlanta from 2009-2011, just misses the cut due to the numbers game.
Inside linebacker (5): Arthur Brown, Daryl Smith, Josh Bynes, Albert McClellan, Jameel McClain; Bubble: Bryan Hall, Nigel Carr; Out: Brandon Copeland
Analysis: McClain is expected to be back for the 2013 season after suffering a spinal cord contusion against Washington a year ago. However, he hasn't been cleared for contact yet and that could present a problem if he's not able to go during training camp. If he cannot get clearance by Week 1, he could be shelved for the season. Hall will be an interesting player to watch throughout camp. He lost 40 pounds so he could play at inside linebacker, though the position itself appears deep in numbers.
Cornerback (6): Lardarius Webb, Corey Graham, Jimmy Smith, Chykie Brown, Marc Anthony, Asa Jackson; Bubble: Mo Lee, Chris Johnson
Analysis: The Ravens hate cutting draft picks, which is why Jackson and Anthony likely wind up on the roster. Johnson will have the most to prove as he performed the poorest of the returning cornerbacks after being acquired during the midseason in 2012. Lee is an intriguing prospect that drew praises from defensive coordinator Dean Pees during the offseason. However, he could be a prime practice squad candidate.
Safety (4): Michael Huff, Matt Elam, James Ihedigbo, Omar Brown; Bubble: Christian Thompson; Out: Anthony Levine, Brynden Trawick
Analysis: Huff, Elam and Ihegibo definitely have spots this year. The Ravens will probably add just one more safety to the mix and that figures to come down to a competition between Brown and Thompson. Thompson was the 2012 draft choice but Brown appeared better prepared to play safety at the NFL level. Thompson was strictly a special teams player until he ended the year on IR. For now, Brown gets the edge.
Special teams (3): Sam Koch, Justin Tucker, Morgan Cox
Analysis: There's no competition here as Koch is an elite NFL punter, Tucker is an emerging star and Cox has, for a long time now, provided stability and efficiency as the long snapper.
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