Baltimore Ravens: 5 Players Firmly on the Roster Bubble
Usually teams know who their starters will be, and then coaches deliberate about who will fill out the final roster. In the Ravens' case, they signed new players like Elvis Dumervil, Michael Huff, Chris Canty and Marcus Spears—all of whom have started many games in the NFL.
Figuring that those players are safe, let's turn our attention to those players on the bubble. Whether it was trouble with the law, a poor work ethic, poor performance or lackadaisical practicing, there are a handful of players who may not make the team this year even though they've shown signs of being able to contribute in the past.
The five players on this list count as a collective $3,139,971 against Baltimore's 2013 cap number, per Spotrac.com. On average, that's $627,994.20 per player. So if the Ravens need to make a personnel decision based on two similar players, wouldn't they cut the player who would do them the least financial harm?
The competition is thick at several positions, so these bubble players can ill afford to give anything but their best.
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Damien Berry enters his third year with the Ravens, although he has yet to play a down in the regular season.
Baltimore may only keep four running backs, which is not good for Berry. He's struggling to get playing time, and the fact that competition is so stiff elsewhere is another obstacle he's faced with.
For him to make the team, Berry will have to be almost perfect during training camp. If he doesn't stand out, I don't see how Baltimore can afford to keep him on its roster.
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OK, those aren't the stats of a worldbeater, but the primary job of a nose tackle is to control the point of attack and let the linebackers flow more freely to the football.
That's where Cody fell short last season.
He only made three starts in 2012, and the Ravens rush defense finished the year ranked 20th overall. Of course, that wasn't all Cody's fault, and the Ravens often played teams who ran away toward the perimeter of the defense, but he still didn't perform well last year.
Cody is also on the bubble because Baltimore drafted nose tackle Brandon Williams in the third round. If you're selected on Day 1 or Day 2 (Rounds 1-3) of the draft, you're going to be given an opportunity to start.
Even if it's not Williams, Baltimore's defensive line is seemingly too deep for the inconsistent Cody.
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With the 169th overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, the Ravens selected cornerback Asa Jackson from Cal Poly.
Jackson played in only three games last year, making one tackle. 2012 was an up-and-down year for the rookie cornerback, as he was suspended four games (Week 15 through the Wild Card Game) due to Adderall use, according to a source via Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun.
The Ravens organization is one that's known for helping players with troubled pasts (Ray Lewis, Sergio Kindle, etc.). If Jackson does get cut, I doubt it will be because of a seven-month-old suspension, just like I doubt the suspension will ever be forgotten by Baltimore's front office.
Like Cody, Jackson is on the bubble—not just because of his inconsistent play but because of the wealth of defensive backs the Ravens currently have.
In 2012, the deepest unit Baltimore had was their defensive backfield, and it's looking the same way this year, which doesn't bode well for a player like Jackson.
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Jah Reid is on this list for two reasons.
First of all, I don't know what position he's going to play. He's listed as a tackle but played a lot at guard in 2012.
If he were a center, that would be one thing. But the starters at left and right tackle and at left and right guard are set. Besides left tackle Bryant McKinnie, left guard Kelechi Osemele, right guard Marshal Yanda and right tackle Michael Oher, there are nine other guards and tackles Reid has to compete with.
On a positive note, Reid is really big (6'7", 335 lbs) and made seven starts last year. However, I don't think he did enough to convince the Ravens he's worth keeping on the roster when they have younger players near his level.
Second of all, for what it's worth, Reid is a bit of an instigator. As The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec tweeted, Reid and outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw got into the first scuffle of minicamp. In fact, Upshaw almost swung at Reid.
Last year in training camp, Reid was involved in another fight with defensive lineman Arthur Jones. Many punches were thrown in that one.
I just can't clearly see how Reid makes this team.
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As a 2011 NFL Draft Report second-team All-American, Christian Thompson was selected by the Ravens in the fourth round of the 2011 draft out of South Carolina State.
Since then, he's played in seven games, mostly on special teams. He definitely has some ability.
However, Thompson is going to be suspended for the first four games of the 2013 regular season for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He's eligible to return on September 30 (the day after the Ravens' Week 4 game at Buffalo).
Although Thompson has three years remaining on his contract, it's a contract that only counts as a total of $1,935,438 against the Ravens' cap through 2015, per Spotrac.com. In other words, as NFL contracts go, Thompson's isn't much.
Thompson was placed on injured reserve in Week 11 of last year and will miss the first four games of this year, meaning he will have missed a total of 15 consecutive games by the time he's eligible to return.
That's almost like applying for an extremely popular job, getting in on an internship basis, then asking for two weeks vacation.