Who Is on the Baltimore Ravens' Roster Bubble Heading into Camp?
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The Baltimore Ravens open their training camp in one month, and the long process begins to pare down their roster from 90 players to 53. While players on the bubble will reveal themselves in earnest at that time, it's not hard to tell which players are already at risk of failing to grasp a roster spot.
In the following slides, I look at the players who need to haul themselves off the bubble as soon as training camp begins.
WR LaQuan Williams
LaQuan Williams' improvements need to outshine those of Tandon Doss if he wants to be a Raven in September.
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For once, the Ravens have a logjam at No. 3 receiver. While it's yet to be seen if that means the position will produce more yardage and scores than it has in the past four years, the number of players vying for the job at least means the right man will win it—it won't just fall to someone by default.
In competition for the job are second-year players Tandon Doss and LaQuan Williams, Jacoby Jones, Tommy Streeter, Deonte Thompson and David Reed. Jones has the best shot at winning out—he's a veteran with vast on-field experience.
The Ravens aren't likely to hold onto more than six receivers when it comes to the active roster, which means that one of those second-year players (Doss and Williams) will be an odd man out, and at the moment, that player is Williams.
To Williams' credit, he looked good at OTAs, but so does practically everyone. In order to pull himself out of the bubble, he'll need that momentum to pick up once camp starts. Impressing on special teams could also save him.
LB Sergio Kindle
Sergio Kindle has proved he's healthy—but can he prove he's worth a roster spot?
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This is a make-or-break offseason for Ravens linebacker Sergio Kindle—and even the team's director of player personnel, Eric DeCosta, agrees. Kindle was drafted in 2010 and suffered a fall that same year that resulted in a skull fracture. He missed his entire rookie season as he recovered and played in just two games in 2011.
Though the Ravens have found themselves rather thin at linebacker after losing Jarret Johnson to free agency and both Terrell Suggs and Mike McAdoo to torn Achilles tendons, that still doesn't mean that Kindle's future is safe.
Kindle is fully recovered from his injury—though he is still suffering from some lingering hearing loss—and is up against rookie Courtney Upshaw for a chance at a starting job. Upshaw has been lined up in Johnson's former spot with the starters at OTAs and, considering how much of an impression he's made thus far, may have the job in his sole possession early into training camp.
Unless the Ravens see some real improvement from Kindle—and an ability to be a regular on-field contributor—he's at risk of being cut. The only thing that may save him is the Ravens' need for linebacker depth.
RB Damien Berry
Damien Berry needs to prove his worth—or at the very least, that the Ravens need to keep four running backs on the 53-man roster.
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This season, it's looking more and more like the job of No. 2 running back for the Ravens will fall to rookie Bernard Pierce. Behind Pierce and Mr. Everything, Ray Rice, are Anthony Allen (Rice's No. 2 last season), Damien Berry and the undrafted Bobby Rainey.
While Rainey certainly has the more uphill of battles to remain on the roster, one of the Berry/Allen duo is already on the roster bubble, and at this time, it seems like that man is Berry.
While Rice sat out practices while on a contract holdout and Pierce nursed a tweaked hamstring, Allen got the majority of first-team reps at minicamp. More reps means a better chance to stand out, and it was Allen who almost solely benefited.
That glimpse into the Ravens' running back hierarchy almost certainly means that Berry needs to work that much harder when training camp commences next month. At the very best, the end result for Berry will be the practice squad.
CBs Chykie Brown and Danny Gorrer
In the Brown vs. Gorrer battle, I have Gorrer getting the win.
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The Baltimore Ravens currently have eight cornerbacks on their roster and one of the best crew of cornerbacks in the league. Chances are, they'll cut that number down to six for the regular season, and it's looking like either Chykie Brown or Danny Gorrer could be one of the two cut from the active roster.
Brown is in his second year in the league and spent the majority of his rookie season helping out on special teams. Special teams are also Gorrer's forte, which is a major reason why he was promoted from the practice squad last September.
Gorrer was active for 11 games last season and performed well in spot-duty covering New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes in Week 4. Brown, on the other hand, didn't get any real on-field time last season beyond special teams.
The Ravens brought on another cornerback in this year's draft—Asa Jackson, whom they selected in the fifth round. Jackson's biggest strength is kick and punt returns, and for that reason, he should win a roster spot. That puts both Brown and Gorrer in jeopardy.
My impression currently is that the Ravens keep Gorrer on the active roster and release Brown if he's not practice squad-eligible.