4 Dark-Horse Candidates to Make Baltimore Ravens' Final 53-Man Roster

Jason MarcumCorrespondent IIIJuly 8, 2015

4 Dark-Horse Candidates to Make Baltimore Ravens' Final 53-Man Roster

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    In three weeks, the Baltimore Ravens will hit the field for training camp.

    They'll do so with a deep and talented roster that should be in postseason contention once again after making it to the second round of the playoffs last year. 

    Baltimore will have many of last year's players back, meaning there won't be many spots on the 53-man roster for newcomers to earn. However, the Ravens did add some talented players late in the draft and through free agency who could surprise and earn a spot on the final roster. 

    Here's a look at four dark-horse candidates to make the Ravens' final 53-man roster.   

DeAndre Carter

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    Lido Vizzutti/Associated Press

    One of the biggest performers during Ravens' OTAs was receiver DeAndre Carter, per Baltimore Beatdown's Yitzi Weiss.

    Going into the 2015 NFL draft, Carter was projected as a late-round prospect but ultimately would go undrafted before Baltimore signed him.

    As a senior at Sacramento State this past season, he was a first-team FCS All-American while leading the nation with 99 receptions for 1,321 yards and 17 touchdowns.

    Baltimore needs help at receiver and on special teams at punt and kickoff returner. It just so happens Carter has experience in both of those areas. 

    Carter averaged 12.5 yards per punt return in his college career while returning one for a score last year. He also averaged 23.7 yards per kickoff return.

    That helped Carter get enough reps in OTAs to impress and put himself in a good position to make the final roster. 

    "DeAndre's done a good job," head coach John Harbaugh said about his performance during the rookie minicamp, per the Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson. "He's done a really nice job as a receiver and he's looked good as a punt returner. He's had some experience with that in college, so that's a plus."

    Carter won't have much competition at punt and kickoff returner after longtime return man Jacoby Jones was cut this offseason. The Ravens typically find a couple of undrafted free agents who make their final roster, and Carter looks like a strong candidate to be one this year. 

Robert Myers

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    Baltimore's offensive line was among the best in football in 2014, and spots along it are going to be hard to come by. 

    That goes for Tennessee State guard Robert Myers, whom the Ravens drafted in the fifth round with the 176th pick.

    Myers is a quality player who played at a high level in college, though it was in the FCS ranks. The 6'5", 326-pound Myers started 35 games at TSU and was a second-team All-Ohio Valley selection in each of his final two seasons. 

    The problem for Myers is that he enters a stacked offensive line that doesn't have much room at any of the five spots. He'll be looking to earn a spot at guard with Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele already having both spots locked down.

    John Urschel played well in limited snaps as a rookie last year, as did veteran backup Jah Reid. The good news is Reid is also backup tackle, so in theory, Myers could earn a spot as one of the backup guards if Baltimore uses Reid more at tackle this year. 

    Either way, Myers has to earn his spot with a good showing in training camp and the preseason. 

Steven Means

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    Brian Blanco/Associated Press

    Though the Ravens don't need help at outside linebacker, Steven Means was a nice surprise in OTAs this offseason. 

    Baltimore signed Means to their practice squad last year after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers waived him. He's a career journeyman who's played in just 11 games, but he can play both outside linebacker and defensive end in Baltimore's 3-4 defense. 

    Means did get called up to the Ravens' 53-man roster late last year but wasn't active for any games. He's now an underdog to earn a spot there again with Brent Urban and Kapron Lewis-Moore healthy at defensive end.

    Baltimore also drafted Za'Darius Smith at outside linebacker, so both positions will have a lot of competition for Means.

    However, Means made a favorable impression during OTAs—so much so that Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome singled Means out as someone who could get some snaps to rest Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil at outside linebacker. 

    Per Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com, Newsome said: "We still have a lot of picks to try to find someone else to add to ‘Sizz’ [Terrell Suggs], [Elvis] Dumervil and [Courtney] Upshaw and Steven Means, who I think has the ability to play good football for us this year."

    Means will need to have a good showing in training camp and the preseason to earn a spot on the 53-man roster, but he's got some positive momentum toward doing so after his showing in OTAs.  

Kapron Lewis-Moore

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    It's been a rough start to the NFL career of Ravens defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore.

    In the 2013 NFL draft, Baltimore took Lewis-Moore out of Notre Dame in Round 6 in hopes he would give it some depth along the defensive line. Moore was once a promising NFL prospect while in college, but an injury suffered his senior season almost derailed his career.

    Lewis-Moore spent his entire rookie season on the reserve/non-football injury list because of a knee injury suffered during the BCS National Championship Game against Alabama, his final college game.

    In the 2012 season, Lewis-Moore finished his final college season with 40 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, two pass breakups and two forced fumbles for Notre Dame. He would have been drafted much higher if not for the injury.

    Because it happened at the beginning of 2013, the Ravens went ahead and drafted him before stashing him on that list in order to keep his rights in hopes he'd recover and become a productive player for them. 

    They were expecting big things from Lewis-Moore in 2014 after he had a promising showing in OTAs and training camp. Sadly, he suffered a torn Achilles last August that cost him the entire season.

    Per Garrett Downing of BaltimoreRavens.com, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said: "It’s very unfortunate and very disappointing because the kid has been having a phenomenal camp, and he just came off his knee injury. To see him work all the way back, just to get injured in camp is very unfortunate."

    Moore is once again attempting to bounce back from injury while making the Ravens' 53-man roster, and so far he's looked good in OTAs. Baltimore has even given KPM reps with the starting defense, per John Eisenberg of BaltimoreRavens.com

    As it stands, Moore is facing an uphill climb to make the final roster, but given how much time Baltimore has invested in him, don't be surprised if he rewards it by earning a spot on the 53-man roster. 

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