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Breaking down 2021 Ravens’ initial 53-man roster

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Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke Jones is the Ravens and Orioles beat reporter for WNST BaltimorePositive.com and is a PFWA member. His mind is consumed with useless sports knowledge, pro wrestler promos, and movie quotes, but he struggles to remember where he put his phone. Luke's favorite sports memories include being one of the thousands of kids who waited to get Cal Ripken's autograph after Orioles games in the summer of 1995, attending the Super Bowl XXXV victory parade with his father in the pouring rain, and watching the Terps advance to the Final Four at the Carrier Dome in 2002. Follow him on Twitter @BaltimoreLuke or email him at Luke@wnst.net.

Starting with potentially placing a few players on injured reserve as soon as Wednesday, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta will undoubtedly make changes before the Sept. 13 opener at Las Vegas, but below is a breakdown of the initial 53-man roster for the 2021 season:

QUARTERBACKS (2) — Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley
Analysis: With Jackson not vaccinated and subject to tighter restrictions that could lead to a sudden absence at the wrong time, the Ravens need to add a viable No. 3 option to their practice squad. If Trace McSorley doesn’t pass through waivers, Josh Johnson is another name to watch after the journeyman was released by the New York Jets.

RUNNING BACKS/FULLBACKS (4) — Gus Edwards, Patrick Ricard, Ty’Son Williams, Justice Hill
Analysis: Though Hill made the cut, he probably shouldn’t feel too comfortable as DeCosta explores other options who might fit in offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s rushing attack in the wake of losing the explosive J.K. Dobbins to a season-ending knee injury. Williams impressed over the summer to win a job, but depth is now a concern here with Edwards being the only established NFL tailback.

WIDE RECEIVERS (7) — Marquise Brown, Sammy Watkins, Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, Tylan Wallace, James Proche, Miles Boykin
Analysis: Both Bateman and Boykin are candidates to go to IR, which would sideline them for a minimum of three weeks. That timing is more relevant for the first-round rookie still recovering from groin surgery, and the extensive time missed by Brown and Watkins leaves an even more unsettling feeling about this group entering the season.

TIGHT ENDS (3) — Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle, Josh Oliver
Analysis: Head coach John Harbaugh said Boyle won’t be ready for Week 1, but the Ravens activated him from the physically unable to perform list, meaning he’ll avoid a six-game absence to open the season. You’d anticipate Baltimore re-signing blocking tight end Eric Tomlinson — or adding someone similar — to the roster or the practice squad to lend a hand in the meantime.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9) — Ronnie Stanley, Ben Powers, Bradley Bozeman, Kevin Zeitler, Alejandro Villanueva, Patrick Mekari, Tyre Phillips, Ben Cleveland, Trystan Colon
Analysis: No one really seized the swing tackle job over the summer with either Phillips or Mekari defaulting to that role for the moment, so DeCosta will explore outside options, something other teams will also be doing. Powers is the favorite to open the season at left guard, but that could change sooner than later, especially if Cleveland can begin stacking practice days after missing a chunk of training camp with a concussion.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (5) — Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams, Derek Wolfe, Justin Madubuike, Broderick Washington
Analysis: There currently isn’t a clear-cut backup to Williams at nose tackle, which is why Justin Ellis is a candidate to re-sign to the active roster or practice squad later this week. Otherwise, keeping only five defensive linemen isn’t out of the question with teams rarely activating more than five for games in today’s pass-happy NFL.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (4) — Patrick Queen, Malik Harrison, Chris Board, Kristian Welch
Analysis: L.J. Fort’s season-ending knee injury hurt the depth of this group, but it opened a roster spot for Welch, who is a good special-teams player but unproven as a defensive contributor. Of course, the hope is that both Queen and Harrison take significant steps forward in their second season, which would diminish the need for the four-man rotation we saw in various sub packages last year.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (5) — Tyus Bowser, Justin Houston, Odafe Oweh, Daelin Hayes, Jaylon Ferguson
Analysis: Even if Pernell McPhee is re-signed later in the week, no defensive position group has undergone more changes with the Ravens expecting good things from the veteran Houston and the first-round rookie Oweh. Especially for a fifth-round rookie, Hayes has flashed enough to be cautiously optimistic that he can handle some rotation snaps behind Bowser at the strong-side “Sam” spot, an encouraging development after Matthew Judon’s exit in free agency.

CORNERBACKS (6) — Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Tavon Young, Anthony Averett, Jimmy Smith, Chris Westry
Analysis: The 6-foot-4 Westry was arguably the biggest surprise of the summer going from the Dallas practice squad and a reserve-future deal in January to making the 53-man roster as a promising outside option. This is the most talented position group on the roster, but the injury histories of Young, Smith, and Averett will still make you nervous ahead of the new 17-game regular season. Smith (ankle) could begin the season on IR.

SAFETIES (5) — Chuck Clark, DeShon Elliott, Brandon Stephens, Geno Stone, Ar’Darius Washington
Analysis: The Ravens have added enough promising young depth at this position to allow defensive coordinator Wink Martindale to resume heavier use of the dime package that made this secondary so tough two years ago. Stephens and Washington also profile as options at the nickel spot, which is relevant with Young having missed three of the last four seasons due to injuries. Anthony Levine could re-sign later this week, but he’s not much of a factor on defense anymore.

SPECIALISTS (3) — Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Nick Moore
Analysis: DeCosta wasn’t able to fetch a draft pick for rookie kicker Jake Verity, but the Ravens appear confident in Moore, who was on the practice squad last year and is replacing longtime long snapper Morgan Cox this season.

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