For those Ravens on the field for the final preseason game, there’s a realization that it could be their last time in an NFL stadium as a player. It’s a harsh reality. This may be what fuels some to produce extreme results, like the Michael Pierce forced fumble touchdown against the Saints in 2016 which arguably propelled him onto the roster. It’s now time for a few other Ravens to do so as they head to Fed Ex Field and play the Washington Redskins on Thursday, August 29.
Zach Sieler — The depth of the Ravens defensive line, as always, is formidable. There are the three incumbent starters, Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce and Willie Henry. Afterward, they have Chris Wormley as the starter in their base package. If it stopped here, Sieler would make the team without issue. Obviously, that’s not the case. The team drafted DT Daylon Mack in the fifth round this year and Patrick Ricard has made waves as a defensive talent and punishing fullback. This pushes the defensive line group to six players, with maybe room for one more. It will take a lot from Sieler to win spot 52 or 53 but it is possible. Especially if the franchise opts to IR an extra player or two. In my opinion, he’s had a bad draw with the current state of the position being locked down rather than his lack of skill. He’s a good player but the depth at defensive line hurts him. I’m confident he will stay in the NFL if Baltimore waives their former seventh-round pick.
Otaro Alaka — The inside linebacker position needs depth. There are good starters but the defense will suffer if an injury occurs to Patrick Onwuasor, Kenny Young or Chris Board. Alaka has earned praise by his fellow teammates, coaches and the media. He’s fast and smart. He makes tackles in the amoeba of running plays and in the open field. He’s produced a solid camp and preseason; now he must finish on a high note.
Jaleel Scott — After a year on injured reserve, Scott came out firing in 2019, impressing coaches with new-found finesse in his routes and ability to high-point the ball with his 6-foot-5 frame. He’s been a player I’ve juggled in and out of roster predictions. Just as I said with Sieler, the possible IR candidates give Scott hope. So does his play against the Eagles last week with his red-zone touchdown.
Patrick Mekari — Though the offensive line is back to health, last weeks’ scare may be enough to keep an extra lineman like Mekari. It sounds like Bozeman is more of a lock after Harbaugh praised his performance last week against the Eagles in which he played every offensive snap. Either way, the team knows just how quickly a season can fall to the wayside after a lineman goes down without adequate depth to soften the blow.
Gerald Willis — The same story as Sieler. The Ravens probably want to keep Willis but the lack of available spots leave him unable to usurp another player to make the roster. He’s more playing for another team or practice squad on Thursday but you never know.
Shane Ray — Once a first-round draft pick for the Denver Broncos, Ray is a well-known name. Too many injuries pushed him to the side and he finds himself behind a litany of linebackers. Baltimore brought back Pernell McPhee to play opposite of Matt Judon and drafted Jaylon Ferguson for the future. Ray had the opportunity to unseat either Tim Williams or Tyus Bowser but it appears both stepped up their performance with solid camps and preseason exhibitions. If one faltered, Ray could’ve scooped their roster spot and scored. It doesn’t appear that’s the case, though, seeing as he’s been the last pass-rusher to play in the preseason.
Though these six are the most prominent, there are 37 players on this roster who will lose their job by Saturday, August 31. Yes, some will get something back as a practice squad candidate, but it doesn’t work out for many. For that reason, good luck to all the Ravens players and NFL hopeful on Thursday.