Monday, August 13, 2007

THE GRIM REAPER IS WATCHING...Examining the Ravens' Roster


Compared to a regular season game, the Ravens sideline will look very crowded tonight when the team hosts the Philadelphia Eagles. Currently the Ravens have 82 players on their roster and 3 are on the P.U.P. list. By Tuesday August 28 the team will have to pair that number down to 75 following the Ravens third preseason game against the Redskins.

After the cut down on the 28th the Ravens will take on the Falcons in the fourth, final and most absolutely boring preseason game of them all. It won’t be boring for those players on the bubble and this year. That bubble will be as crowded as Paris Hilton’s bar stool at 2 AM. It won’t be easy for Brian Billick and his staff to whittle the roster to the final 53 on September 1.

Getting to 53 this year might be the most challenging cut down for Billick since he’s been in Baltimore. The way I see it going into tonight’s contest, there are 5 roster spots up for grabs and there are a slew of players scratching, kicking and clawing their way towards a spot in much the same way that fans lusted over home run No. 756 from Mr. Pumpkinhead.

In my opinion, these are the players competing for spots 49 through 53 (in no particular order):

Devard Darling ~ Needs to secure his No. 4 WR spot through special teams play; he also needs to show up on film in games

Clarence Moore ~ see above; plus he needs to lose the T-Rex posture when running routes over the middle of the field

B.J. Sams ~ Has played well; Ravens don’t want to have the decline in return yardage like they did in ’06 when Sams went down; therefore, he could be an expensive insurance policy

Keydrick Vincent ~ Will need to take a pay cut to have a chance; $2M back-up guards are extremely expensive luxuries...they are also unnecessary

Brian Rimpf ~ Can stick if he outplays Vincent and proves to be a less expensive swing guy; with his new haircut, he could be a body double in the Dukes of Hazard sequel

Jared Gaither ~ Is a borderline lock to make the roster unless he suffers some mysterious season ending injury that allows the Ravens to IR him

Jamaine Winborne ~ Has caught the attention of coaches and players filling in at safety; fights hard on special teams as well

Prescott Burgess ~ A pleasant surprise with a very solid chance to make the team

Edgar Jones ~ Another in a long line of UDFA’s that has exceeded expectations; he won’t slide through waivers so if the Ravens like him, he’ll have to stick, otherwise he'll be scooped up by another team. Did I hear someone say Phil Savage?

Dan Cody ~ Unfortunately Bill Tessendorf’s favorite; looks like another IR season for the DE/LB

Mike Smith ~ If Burgess and Jones continue to play well, Smith will be on IR with his buddy Cody or worse, he could be released

Anthony Bryant/Keyonta Marshall/Atiyyah Ellison ~ all 3 DT’s battling to convince Ravens’ coaches that they can replace the departed Aubrayo Franklin for that last rotational position at tackle.

Rhys Lloyd ~ Brit needs work visa in order to be a kick off specialist. He's more likely to get that visa than a roster spot.

As you can see getting to 53 won’t be easy. And even when Brian Billick has his 53, choosing which 45 works best on any given Sunday can also be a challenge. Why does a coach even have to sit 8 paid players prior to kickoff? Doesn’t it penalize teams that evaluate talent the best? Aren’t teams with the deepest rosters being punished?

In my next blog I’ll address the league’s rationale (or lack thereof) as to why coaches can only dress 45 players from their 53 man roster on game day. Until then, pay attention to the players above. Their successes or failures will help put the final touches on the Ravens 2007 roster.

4 comments :

Mike in Grasonville said...

Tony,
I agree with your asessment, but isn't it a beautiful thing to have such hard decisions to make. Many teams are scratching to fill voids while the Ravens have a surplus of talent on their hands.

If you have to have problems this is the type you want to have. Rave on!

Anonymous said...

Tony

Think that the Ravens may do their cuts based on who is likely to stick on the practice squad rather than the optimal players and who can mysteriously stay on IR.

Wouldn't be surprised to see the practice squad consisting of more veterans than rookies this year as a result.

Tony Lombardi said...

Keep in mind that practice squad prospects must pass through waivers before the Ravens can sign them to the practice squad.

Teams can have a maximum of eight players on the practice squad. And here's an important point to keep in mind...players credited with two or more NFL seasons are ineligible.

The Ghost of Christmas Past said...

The following are nothing more than practice fodder and will be turning in their playbooks after the next preseason game: Linson, Pino, Gaston, Enzor, Riddle, Swancutt, Carney and Leeson