Baltimore Ravens: 53-Man Roster-Cut Predictions Post-Colts Game

Jason MarcumCorrespondent IIIAugust 29, 2014

Baltimore Ravens: 53-Man Roster-Cut Predictions Post-Colts Game

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    The Baltimore Ravens' preseason is now over, following their final game against the New Orleans Saints. The Ravens outlasted the Saints on the way to a 22-13 win to finish 4-0 in the preseason. 

    With no more preseason games left, the next key date is August 30. By 4:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, all 32 NFL teams must have trimmed their rosters down from 75 to 53 players. 

    With the regular-season opener approaching fast, Baltimore needs to pare its roster down. Then the Ravens can focus on their first opponent in the Cincinnati Bengals, who won the AFC North last year after Baltimore won it the two previous seasons. 

    Here's the latest attempt at projecting the Ravens' 53-man roster. 

Quarterback

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    Rogelio Solis/Associated Press
    1. Joe Flacco
    2. Tyrod Taylor

    This is one of the easiest positions to project for Baltimore. The Ravens will go with franchise quarterback Joe Flacco to lead the way for the seventh consecutive year. To this point, Flacco has started in all 96 possible regular-season games in his career. 

    That kind of durability is hard to find, and it helps Baltimore feel confident about keeping just two quarterbacks. Backing up Flacco will be Tyrod Taylor. 

    Entering a contract year, Taylor could be in his last year as Flacco's backup, depending on if another team offers him more money and/or a starting opportunity in free agency next offseason.

    He's played well enough that the Ravens should feel comfortable with him being Flacco's backup, though Taylor has never started in a regular-season game. 

    Keith Wenning was drafted in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL draft, but the Ravens appeared to be hiding him in hopes of waiving him and signing him onto the practice squad. Wenning simply wasn't given meaningful snaps this preseason other than in the fourth game. 

    Against New Orleans, he completed eight of 13 passes for 113 yards, which was a decent showing but not enough to earn a roster spot. 

    Players Cut: Keith Wenning

Running Back

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    Rogelio Solis/Associated Press
    1. Ray Rice
    2. Bernard Pierce
    3. Lorenzo Taliaferro
    4. Justin Forsett
    5. Kyle Juszczyk

    The Ravens should feel more secure about the running back spot after the preseason performances of their lesser-used backs. 

    Because Ray Rice is going to be suspended for the first two games of the regular season, that means Bernard Pierce is going to get the bulk of touches for those games. When he needs a breather, it will likely be rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro who comes in. 

    The fourth-round pick of this year's draft has been a featured weapon in the offense this preseason, and that didn't change against the Saints. Taliaferro's fourth preseason game saw him get 25 carries for 88 yards.

    He and veteran backup Justin Forsett will make the roster as the third and fourth backs and then battle for carries while Rice is out.

    Kyle Juszczyk makes the roster as the team's lone fullback, though he's much more than that. He's been a nice weapon in the passing game, and he's been a decent blocker. 

    Players Cut: Fitzgerald Toussaint

Wide Receiver

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    Bill Haber/Associated Press
    1. Torrey Smith
    2. Steve Smith
    3. Marlon Brown
    4. Jacoby Jones
    5. Deonte Thompson
    6. Michael Campanaro

    The Ravens go with a similar group of receivers as they did in 2013. Torrey Smith will once again be the No. 1 receiver. He'll be joined by Deonte Thompson, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown, all of whom were on the roster last year. 

    The new additions are Steve Smith and Michael Campanaro. Smith was signed this offseason after the Carolina Panthers cut him. The 36-year-old will be a nice veteran presence for a young Ravens receiving corps. 

    Campanaro beats out the likes of Kamar Aiken and Jeremy Butler for the final WR spot on the roster. The rookie has been useful on specials teams as a returner and on the coverage unit. 

    In his final preseason game against the Saints, he caught three passes for 55 yards, his biggest performance of the preseason. 

    Players Cut: Kamar Aiken, Jeremy Butler, Jace Davis

Tight End

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press
    1. Dennis Pitta
    2. Owen Daniels
    3. Crockett Gillmore

    After missing most of the 2013 season due to a hip injury, Dennis Pitta will return to reclaim his status as the No. 1 tight end.

    Owen Daniels was signed to a one-year deal to complement him this year, while third-round rookie Crockett Gillmore develops and replaces him next year. A fourth tight end is unlikely to be kept.

    The Ravens simply don't have anyone who has stepped up this preseason to earn a spot on the roster as a fourth TE. 

    Players Cut: Nathan Overbay, Phillip Supernaw

Offensive Line

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    Brandon Wade/Associated Press
    1. Eugene Monroe
    2. Marshal Yanda
    3. Kelechi Osemele
    4. Jeremy Zuttah
    5. Rick Wagner
    6. Ryan Jensen
    7. Gino Gradkowski
    8. Jah Reid
    9. John Urschel

    The Ravens offensive line will be easy to project in terms of the starters. Marshall Yanda and Kelechi Osemele will be the starting guards.

    Eugene Monroe has locked down the left tackle spot after inking a long-term, $37 million extension this offseason with Baltimore.

    Jeremy Zuttah was acquired via a trade from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason, and he'll replace Gino Gradkowski as the starting center.

    Rick Wagner won the starting right tackle job after Michael Oher departed in free agency, and the Ravens opted not to sign or draft another tackle this offseason.

    Gradkowski, Ryan Jensen and fifth-round guard John Urschel make the roster as backup interior linemen. Gradkowski can play both center and guard. 

    Jah Reid makes the team as the backup right tackle. He did push Wagner for the starting RT job in training camp, and it's possible he could start this year if Wagner struggles.

    Undrafted free agent James Hurst makes a strong bid to make the club as the backup left tackle, but he's ultimately cut. 

    Players Cut: James Hurst, AQ Shipley, Reggie Stephens, Parker Graham

Defensive Line

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    1. Haloti Ngata
    2. Brandon Williams
    3. Timmy Jernigan
    4. Chris Canty
    5. DeAngelo Tyson

    The Ravens defensive line is a little thin, but the top of the rotation is very strong. Starting defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL, and a starting spot for him on the defensive line is guaranteed.

    Chris Canty won the starting defensive end job, while Brandon Williams secured the starting nose tackle spot. 

    Terrence Cody will open the year on the PUP list because of his hip issue. He won't count against the 53-man roster, but Baltimore will keep his rights and can activate him in six weeks.

    DeAngelo Tyson is a solid lineman who has played all three spots. His veteran presence and versatility help him secure a roster spot.  

    Second-rounder Timmy Jernigan showed some nice promise this preseason, and he too can play multiple spots along the defensive line. 

    The Ravens hoped to have more depth along the defensive line, but they lost Kapron Lewis-Moore and Brent Urban to season-ending injuries during training camp. Instead of keeping another player who might not deserve a roster spot, Baltimore opts to go with just five defensive linemen.

    Players Cut: Jamie Meder, Levi Brown, Derrick Hopkins, AJ Pataiali'i

Linebacker

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press
    1. Terrell Suggs
    2. Elvis Dumervil
    3. Daryl Smith
    4. C.J. Mosley
    5. Arthur Brown
    6. Courtney Upshaw
    7. John Simon
    8. Josh Bynes
    9. Albert McClellan
    10. Pernell McPhee

    In Baltimore's 3-4 defense, Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil have both outside linebacker starting jobs locked up. They'll once again combine to form a fierce pass-rushing duo that accounted for 19.5 sacks in 2013

    Daryl Smith also has one of the two inside linebacker spots secured. Rookie first-round pick C.J. Mosley won the other starting inside linebacker job early in training camp. He's played well this preseason, and Arthur Brown will be the first inside backer of the bench. 

    As for the backups, Courtney Upshaw, John Simon and Pernell McPhee will compete for playing time at outside linebacker, while Josh Bynes and Albert McClellan will compete for playing time at inside linebacker. 

    Players Cut: Zach Orr, DJ Roberts, Austin Spitler

Secondary

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images
    1. Lardarius Webb
    2. Jimmy Smith
    3. Matt Elam
    4. Asa Jackson
    5. Tramain Jacobs
    6. Chykie Brown
    7. Darian Stewart
    8. Terrence Brooks
    9. Jeromy Miles
    10. Brynden Trawick

    Matt Elam started 15 games at free safety last year as a rookie, but he's moving to his more natural strong safety spot this coming season.

    Darian Stewart earned the starting free safety spot in training camp. He'll be backed up by Jeremy Miles and rookie third-round pick Terrence Brooks. Brynden Trawick can play both safety spots, as well as cornerback. That kind of versatility is crucial, especially for a team that is thin at the position. 

    Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith are projected to open the season as the starting corners. However, both are dealing with injuries that have caused them, as well as backup Asa Jackson, to miss much of the preseason.

    Those three being out has led to Chykie Brown and Tramain Jacobs getting more reps this preseason. That will help Jacobs, an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M, earn a roster spot. 

    As for the sixth and final corner spot, that will go to Dominique Franks. The veteran signed with the team at the start of training camp, and he's done enough to earn a roster spot. 

    One other player to note is Will Hill. The veteran safety will be suspended eight games to start the year but won't count against the 53-man roster. It's not clear yet if Baltimore will place him on the 53-man roster or release him when he's able to be activated. 

    Players Cut: Anthony Levine, Sammy Seamster, Derek Cox

Special Teams

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    Bill Haber/Associated Press
    1. Justin Tucker (Kicker)
    2. Sam Koch (Punter
    3. Morgan Cox (Long Snapper)

    The Ravens are blessed to have Justin Tucker. One of the best kickers in the NFL, Tucker became the first NFL kicker to kick a field goal in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s in the same game in 2013.

    In an 18-16 win over the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football, Tucker converted field goals from all of those ranges to lead Baltimore to the big win.

    As for the punter, Sam Koch ranked 13th in net punting average in 2013. Baltimore would probably like him to do better, but the team is ready to go with him for at least one more season. 

    Morgan Cox returns as the long snapper.