Breaking down Ravens' initial 53-man roster after final cuts


No real surprises accompanied the Ravens’ final cuts as they formulated their initial 53-man roster for the 2015 regular season on Saturday afternoon.
Of course, questions still remain after general manager Ozzie Newsome waived fourth-year cornerback Asa Jackson to leave the kick returner job a mystery a week away from the opener in Denver. The Ravens also parted ways with both Terrence Magee and Fitz Toussaint to leave the current roster with just two healthy running backs — Justin Forsett and rookie Buck Allen — while Lorenzo Taliaferro continues to recover from a knee injury.
The Ravens appear set to place injured defensive end Brent Urban on injured reserve with the designation to return with the second-year player remaining on the 53-man roster on Saturday. They are permitted to use the designation as early as Sunday, which would then open an additional roster spot.
The roster will remain fluid in the coming days as Newsome scans the open market for potential additions to enhance the talent already assembled. Baltimore will also put together a 10-player practice squad with a number of players who were cut over the weekend potentially returning to the organization.
Below is a look at the 53-man roster as it stood on Saturday evening with some early impressions:
QUARTERBACKS (2) — Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub
Analysis: Schaub was far from impressive in the spring and summer, but $2 million in guaranteed money eliminated any chance of Bryn Renner unseating him for the backup spot behind Flacco. As is the case every year, the Ravens will pray that they never have to use their backup quarterback with Flacco never having missed a game entering his eighth season.

RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (4) — Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Kyle Juszczyk
Analysis: With the rookie Allen averaging just 2.5 yards per carry and Taliaferro sidelined for at least a few more weeks, you would think the Ravens are searching for another back to add to the mix on at least a temporary basis. Once a roster spot opens up with Urban going to I.R., a running back with some return experience would be an ideal addition before the start of the season.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6) — Steve Smith, Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown, Michael Campanaro, Darren Waller, Breshad Perriman
Analysis: In a perfect world, the Ravens would add a receiver who can bring speed on the outside with Perriman’s status in doubt for the start of the season, but that’s easier said than done at this point. Projected to be the No. 2 and No. 3 receivers respectively, Aiken and Brown only registered 24 catches apiece last season, making it difficult for Flacco to trust anyone in this group beyond Smith right now.

TIGHT ENDS (3) — Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle
Analysis: It’s easy to like the upside at this position, but Gillmore caught only 10 passes in his first season and the rookie second-rounder Williams was banged up for much of the summer and has been sporting a red non-contact jersey in practices over the last couple weeks. The Ravens aren’t planning on Pitta being able to return this season, but there’s always the small chance that he makes it back.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8) — Eugene Monroe, Kelechi Osemele, Jeremy Zuttah, Marshal Yanda, Rick Wagner, John Urschel, James Hurst, Ryan Jensen
Analysis: This is the Ravens’ best unit on either side of the ball, and this group will need to be at the top of its game to offset questionable running back depth and real questions facing the passing game. With Yanda and Osemele scheduled to become free agents after the season, Urschel is not only critical to current depth, but he’s an important piece for the future at either center or guard.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (8) — Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, Chris Canty, Carl Davis, Lawrence Guy, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Christo Bilukidi, Brent Urban
Analysis: The decision to keep both Lewis-Moore and Bilukidi could be an indication that Jernigan’s status is in doubt for the season opener as he’s recovering from a knee injury sustained in the third preseason game. Davis has easily been the Ravens’ most impressive rookie and is in line to start at the 3-technique spot should Jernigan miss early action.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (5) — Daryl Smith, C.J. Mosley, Albert McClellan, Zachary Orr, Arthur Brown
Analysis: The Ravens still saw enough potential in Brown, their 2013 second-round pick, to keep him on the roster despite McClellan and Orr being superior special-teams contributors. Smith and Mosley are one of the finest inside linebacker duos in the league, but an injury to either would leave a significant hole in the middle of the defense with questionable options behind them.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (4) — Elvis Dumervil, Terrell Suggs, Courtney Upshaw, Za’Darius Smith
Analysis: Dumervil is 31 and Suggs will be 33 in October, but the pass-rushing duo remains dangerous coming off the edge if they can stay healthy. Upshaw consistently plays the run well, but he doesn’t offer much ability to get to the quarterback, putting much pressure on the rookie Smith to fill the void of free-agent departure Pernell McPhee as a hybrid situational rusher.

CORNERBACKS (5) — Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb, Kyle Arrington, Rashaan Melvin, Tray Walker
Analysis: This group is in better shape than it was a year ago, but the Ravens have to feel uneasy about Webb as a starter and Walker, a 2015 fourth-round pick, doesn’t appear ready to be a real contributor just yet. Melvin has dealt with a hamstring issue off and on over the last month, so you wonder if Newsome will take a flier on a veteran corner on the open market to add some depth.

SAFETIES (5) — Will Hill, Kendrick Lewis, Terrence Brooks, Anthony Levine, Brynden Trawick
Analysis: Defensive coordinator Dean Pees hopes Hill and Lewis can put a stop to the revolving door that existed at the position a year ago, but Brooks is coming off a serious knee injury and is the only backup with real upside as a defensive player. Levine and Trawick remain mainstays on special teams, but neither brings much in the secondary.

SPECIALISTS (3) — Sam Koch, Morgan Cox, Justin Tucker
Analsysis: This trio is as reliable as any group of specialists in the NFL, but special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg has to be concerned about kickoff returns with no clear solution at the moment. Campanaro will likely return punts, but questions about his ability to stay healthy could force the Ravens to use Steve Smith or Webb in the return game, something they’d really like to avoid.