We're in the home stretch of the preseason, which means the roster is beginning to come into fruition.
The final game typically isn't a last tryout. By this point, teams generally know which 53 players will be on the initial squad. That said, there are always some exceptions. For the Ravens, this year the receiver and cornerback groups are the ones that the coaching staff will still have its eyes on — even if they're leaning hard a particular way.
Heading into Thursday's preseason finale against the Saints, here is the latest 53-man roster projection.
( * indicates the player, at this time, will not be counted toward the 53-man roster due to suspension or being on the PUP list)
Quarterback (2): Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor; Bubble: Keith Wenning
Analysis: Wenning has done next to nothing this preseason. Coach John Harbaugh has said next to nothing about Wenning when asked. The Ravens typically don't cut draft picks, but this could be an exception. If so, maybe the Ravens are confident that no one will pick him up off of waivers, and therefore he can be a practice squad addition. It's also possible the Ravens haven't played him much in an attempt to hide him from other teams. Also, the Ravens could always offer him a competitive salary to be on the practice squad (upon clearing waivers) instead of him opting to a 53-man roster if given the chance. After all, he stands to be Flacco's backup after this season, assuming Taylor leaves for another team in free agency.
Running back (3): Ray Rice*, Bernard Pierce, Justin Forsett, Lorenzo Taliaferro; Out: Fitzgerald Toussaint
Analysis: This group is fairly finalized. Toussaint hasn't had any work since the first preseason game but could see quite a bit of carries Thursday. He'll be looking to put film out there for other teams to look at. Assuming he clears waivers, he could be a practice squad running back. He had a solid sophomore season at Michigan when Brady Hoke kept most of Rich Rodriguez's system intact. Then Hoke proceeded to ruin Toussaint as a college runner. The talent is there, however.
Fullback (1): Kyle Juszczyk
Analysis: Juszczyk continues to be a factor in the passing game. If only he was listed as a tight end for fantasy football purposes.
Wide receiver (6): Torrey Smith, Steve Smith, Jacoby Jones, Marlon Brown, Michael Campanaro, Deonte Thompson; Bubble: Kamar Aiken; Out: Jeremy Butler
Analysis: Even with Aiken getting a lot of reps, he would appear to be the odd man out with Campanaro and Thompson performing well in the last two weeks. Then again, what if the Ravens begin the year with seven receivers? If the Ravens believe Aiken is a better receiver at this time, but that Campanaro and Thompson are part of the 53 best players due to what the add on special teams, then this could be a feasible scenario.
Tight end (3): Dennis Pitta, Owen Daniels, Crockett Gillmore; Out: Nathan Overbay, Phillip Supernaw
Analysis: Overbay and Supernaw are both practice squad candidates. No way the Ravens carry more than three tight ends to start the year.
Offensive line (9): Eugene Monroe, Kelechi Osemele, Jeremy Zuttah, Marshal Yanda, Rick Wagner, Ryan Jensen, John Urschel, Gino Gradkowski, Jah Reid. Bubble: A.Q. Shipley, James Hurst; Out: Reggie Stephens, Parker Graham
Analysis: This group hasn't changed and probably won't. Hurst is a practice squad candidate, though he could be at risk of signing a 53-man roster deal somewhere else. Graham, on the other hand, seems more suited for the practice squad.
Defensive line (5): Haloti Ngata, Brandon Williams, Chris Canty, DeAngelo Tyson, Timmy Jernigan, Terrence Cody*; Bubble: Derrick Hopkins. Out: AJ Pataiali'i, Jamie Meder, Levi Brown
Analysis: Hopkins is the lone bubble guy for a 53-man roster spot. He's played well through the preseason. Of the other three defensive linemen, Pataiali'i has the best chance for hanging around on the practice squad.
Outside linebacker (5): Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Pernell McPhee, Courtney Upshaw, John Simon; Out: D.J. Roberts
Analysis: This group is pretty much wrapped up.
Inside linebacker (5): Daryl Smith, C.J. Mosley, Arthur Brown, Josh Bynes, Albert McClellan; Out: Zach Orr
Analysis: McClellan still gets the nod but could be in trouble if the Ravens decide to go seven receivers. McClellan figures to be sweating it out this Saturday.
Cornerback (6): Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith, Asa Jackson, Chykie Brown, Tramain Jacobs, Derek Cox; Bubble: Dominique Franks, Sammy Seamster
Analysis: With Cox joining this late, it's likely — at least at this time — that he gets a 53-man roster spot. But it's not a definite thing. If Cox underwhelms the Ravens in practice and in the fourth preseason game, he could be on his way out as more cornerbacks become available after final cuts. Don't close the door on any potential trades either.
Safety (5): Matt Elam, Darian Stewart, Terrence Brooks, Jeromy Miles, Brynden Trawick, Will Hill*; Bubble: Anthony Levine.
Analysis: The Ravens should stick with the five safeties here and keep Hill around until after his suspension is over. Then they'll have a decision to make whether to keep him or to see if he can work into the defense.
Special teams (3): Sam Koch, Justin Tucker, Morgan Cox
Analysis: They're the three best friends that anybody could have.