The Ravens will face the Redskins on Thursday night in the final game of the preseason. Here are the most important position battles to watch before the final roster is decided:
Tim White vs. Janarion Grant PR
Baltimore has one more game to decide who will return kicks for them to start the season. The battle is currently between undrafted rookie Janarion Grant and second-year player Tim White. Grant has looked more explosive so far this preseason, but neither player has taken hold of the job just yet. A fumble from both White and Grant against Indianapolis kept the race even tighter.
Both players are also fighting for the last wide receiver spot on the depth chart. Although Grant received the majority of the snaps at returner against Miami, White had a much better game on offense with three receptions for 70 yards. This battle will ultimately be determined by punt return ability, however. Grant and White should both see extensive playing time against Washington.
Breshad Perriman vs. Jordan Lasley WR
The top four wide receiver spots are set in stone and another spot will most likely go to a designated returner. The Ravens usually carry a maximum of six receivers, so the battle for the final spot will be between Breshad Perriman and Jordan Lasley.
Neither Lasley or Perriman have had particularly impressive preseasons, though both have certainly flashed at times. Lasley is coming off of a solid game against the Dolphins with three receptions for 30 yards. However, in the previous game against the Colts, Lasley dropped a wide open touchdown pass. Both Lasley and Perriman have struggled catching the ball, Perriman dropped his first target in the preseason resulting in an interception against Chicago.
Perriman had a big game against Los Angeles with three catches for 71 yards and a touchdown. A former first-round pick, Perriman is entering the final year of his contract after Baltimore declined to pick up his fifth-year option. Meanwhile, Lasley is in the first year of his contract. Lasley also plays special teams whereas Perriman does not. Baltimore could in fact carry seven receivers and keep both Perriman and Lasley, however, it is unlikely at this point.
Maxx Williams vs. Darren Waller TE
With Hayden Hurst sidelined for the first few weeks of the season, the Ravens will have to keep either Maxx Williams or Darren Waller as a third tight end until Hurst returns.
Williams is entering his fourth and final year of his contract after being selected in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft by Baltimore. While suffering several injuries and never quite living up to high expectations, Williams has still been a solid contributor over the years, particularly in the running game. Under tight ends coach Greg Roman, run blocking is a highly desired skill.
Waller just recently returned from a year-long suspension for violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. Waller was originally drafted as a wide receiver in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He has been suspended twice since being drafted and has only caught 12 passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns.
Williams is the better blocker of the two and is more reliable despite his injury history. Waller is one of the most athletic players on offense, however, and is a potential mismatch nightmare for opposing linebackers and safeties. Both Williams and Waller should receive plenty of playing time in the final preseason game.