Baltimore Ravens: Veterans Who Have Been Put on Notice This Offseason
Those players could also cause some current Ravens to lose their roster spots.
In 2013, Baltimore did a good job of replacing many of their aging veterans in favor of younger players with more upside. Players like safety Ed Reed, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and safety Bernard Pollard were let go in favor of rookies and cheap free agents.
While this was the case in many areas of the team, there were a few veterans who managed to hold on to a roster spot. They may not be as lucky when the 2014 season begins.
The Ravens have several veterans on their roster who've been put on notice following the team's offseason acquisitions.
Here are four players who need to step up in training camp or risk being cut or traded prior to the 2014 NFL season.
Deonte Thompson, Wide Receiver
Because of injuries and the trade of Anquan Boldin, the Ravens struggled to get good production from the wide receiver position in 2013.
Outside of Torrey Smith, no other receiver had more than 524 receiving yards.
Deonte Thompson was expected to produce at that position, but failed to do so. Thompson caught just 10 passes for 96 yards while appearing in just seven games.
Making matters worse is that he was arrested and charged with suspicion of possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
According to Garrett Downing of BaltimoreRavens.com, the good news is the charges were dismissed.
During the NFL owners meetings in March, Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com reported that head coach John Harbaugh supported his players while condemning their actions.
"You can't be riding around in a car with marijuana in your bag," Harbaugh said. "I don't care what your reason or your excuse is for it."
For his career, Thomson has played in just 13 games and caught 13 passes for 147 yards. This offseason. the Ravens signed Steve Smith in free agency and then traded their 2015 sixth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns to acquire Michael Campanaro with a seventh-round selection.
Campanaro had a productive college career at Wake Forest with a school-record 229 receptions for 2,506 yards and 14 touchdowns, while Smith has been a productive receiver over his 13-year NFL career.
Thompson is going to have to earn his spot on the roster this year.
Jah Reid, Guard/Tackle
The Ravens' offensive line was a mess in 2013, as it allowed 48 sacks, which was tied with the Buffalo Bills for the fourth-most allowed in the NFL in 2013.
As bad as the line was, offensive guard Jah Reid only managed to play 23 snaps that year. After starting six games in 2012, Reid was expected to get significantly more playing time than he ended up getting.
Reid didn't help himself this offseason when he was arrested and charged with two misdemeanor counts of battery following an altercation at a Florida strip club. Reid allegedly charged at and head-butted a man, and when a security guard tried to intervene, police said Reid punched him in the face.
That's unacceptable behavior for an NFL player, and because Reid has only one year left on his contract, the Ravens may be on the verge of cutting him before the 2014 season begins.
In the NFL draft, Baltimore spent a fifth-round draft pick on Penn State offensive guard John Urschel. It later signed offensive guard Will Rackley,who played three seasons for the Jacksonville Jaguars and started in 25 games.
Reid's roster spot is in jeopardy, and he needs to have a great training camp to secure his roster spot.
Gino Gradkowski, Center/Guard
As mentioned before, the Ravens' offensive line was very shaky in 2013. At center, Jeremy Zuttah was acquired via trade from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the offseason. According to ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has already stated Zuttah will replace Gino Gradkowski as the starting center.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Gradkowski was the worst-rated Ravens offensive player and overall center in 2013 with a -18.1 grade.
Because Gradkowski can play guard too, he should be able to keep a roster spot, but his job as a starter appears gone unless he has a great showing in training camp and preseason.
Sam Koch, Punter
Most NFL teams wouldn't save a lot of money by cutting their starting punter, but that isn't the case with Ravens punter Sam Koch.
For a punter being paid like one of the NFL's best, that's not going to cut it. It doesn't help Koch that the Ravens may have found a younger, cheaper option in Houston punter Richie Leone, who was signed as an undrafted free agent.
A Ray Guy Award semifinalist in 2013, Leone averaged 43.1 yards per punt and had 14 punts of more than 50 yards and four of more than 60 yards last year.
If Leone does well during the preseason, Baltimore may be willing to go with him and cut Koch to save money.
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