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Sizing up 2021 Ravens roster after early days of training camp

Daily Discussions

The Ravens won’t have to trim their roster to 53 players until Aug. 31, but the three-game preseason schedule will offer a better idea of what the coaching staff has to work with in the 2021 season.

This exercise will carry more meaning as we move deeper into the preseason, but this current look at the roster still heavily weighs track record, contract status, draft standing, and positional need in addition to observations from the first two weeks of training camp. For now, I estimate at least 45 players to be safely on the roster, leaving eight spots to fill. We’ll get a much better idea of where players stand starting with the rep distribution during preseason games. Not all bubble players are on equal footing, of course, with certain position groups lacking depth and others enjoying so much talent that the numbers game will likely victimize a few players deserving of an NFL roster spot.

Though general manager Eric DeCosta, head coach John Harbaugh, and the rest of the staff and front office are cognizant of the numbers at each position, trying to arbitrarily pinpoint a certain number of tight ends or inside linebackers isn’t the most accurate way of projecting a roster. The Ravens prefer reserves who will contribute on special teams, so they’ll look carefully at other attributes in addition to what players bring to their individual positions when filling out the back of the roster.

The numbers in parentheses indicate how many players are currently on the roster at that position. As we move into the preseason schedule, I’ll provide updated looks including 53-man roster projections of who’s in and who’s out.

QUARTERBACKS (3)
IN: Lamar Jackson
BUBBLE: Tyler Huntley, Trace McSorley
LONG SHOT: none
Skinny: Ideally, you’d keep one backup on the active roster and the other on the practice squad to devote a 53-man spot elsewhere, but Jackson’s latest COVID-19 infection and the uniqueness of this offense reinforce concerns of losing one on waivers. McSorley has probably been a little more consistent in daily practices, but Huntley shows more upside with his arm and athleticism. The three preseason games will be interesting to watch in terms of both sorting out the competition and determining the chances of another team snatching up one or the other after final cuts.

RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (7)
IN: J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Patrick Ricard, Justice Hill
BUBBLE: Ben Mason
LONG SHOT: Ty’Son Williams, Nate McCrary
Skinny: Though Hill still appears safe as the No. 3 tailback, he didn’t really stand out with more extensive reps when Edwards was sidelined with a COVID infection, opening the door for potential competition. The 6-foot, 220-pound Williams, a member of last year’s practice squad, has shown some impressive physicality and has made the most of his practice reps, making him someone to watch in preseason contests. It’s now evident that Mason being billed as a tight end was a reach, so it’s even more difficult to fathom the Ravens keeping two fullbacks with so many other crowded position groups on the roster.

WIDE RECEIVERS (12)
IN: Marquise Brown, Rashod Bateman, Sammy Watkins, Devin Duvernay, Tylan Wallace, James Proche
BUBBLE: Miles Boykin
LONG SHOT: Deon Cain, Jaylon Moore, Binjimen Victor, Devin Gray, Michael Dereus
Skinny: Proche has been one of the early stars of camp and can cement his spot on the roster by continuing that strong play with Jackson again throwing the passes to him. Meanwhile, Boykin was off to a slow start before injuring his hamstring last week, leaving the 2019 third-round pick’s future on even shakier footing. Though Cain still faces a steep climb for a spot in a run-first offense that’s already invested much draft capital at the position, the 24-year-old has taken advantage of other receivers being absent from practice and has competed at a high level against even the likes of Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey to put himself in the conversation if his strong play continues.

TIGHT ENDS (7)
IN: Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle
BUBBLE: Josh Oliver, Eli Wolf, Eric Tomlinson
LONG SHOT: Tony Poljan, Jake Breeland
Skinny: Oliver and Wolf have been the best performers in a nondescript group of healthy tight ends behind Andrews, but Tomlinson remains in play as a blocking tight end if Boyle’s recovery from last year’s major knee injury and a June cleanup procedure don’t allow him to log much practice time before the start of the regular season. In a perfect world, the Ravens would like to find a No. 3 tight end who can factor as a receiver, but their inventory of youngsters hasn’t shown enough consistency over the first two weeks of practice.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (16)
IN: Ronnie Stanley, Bradley Bozeman, Kevin Zeitler, Alejandro Villanueva, Ben Cleveland, Patrick Mekari, Tyre Phillips
BUBBLE: Ben Powers, Trystan Colon, Ben Bredeson, Michael Schofield, Andre Smith
LONG SHOT: Greg Mancz, Adrian Ealy, Foster Sarell
INJURED: Ja’Wuan James
Skinny: The rookie Cleveland is trending in the right direction in the battle for the starting left guard job, but we haven’t gained a ton of clarity otherwise with the group struggling in practices as Stanley remains out and Zeitler has missed several days of practice with a foot injury. Schofield and Smith have plenty of NFL experience, but neither has inspired confidence as a swing tackle candidate. Powers and Colon are in better shape for roster spots than Bredeson, who hasn’t been in the mix competing at left guard despite being a fourth-round pick last year.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)
IN: Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams, Derek Wolfe, Justin Madubuike, Broderick Washington
BUBBLE: Justin Ellis, Aaron Crawford
LONG SHOT: Jovan Swann
Skinny: An underwhelming rookie year and off-field trouble seemingly put Washington on shaky footing, but a strong start to summer has put him in better standing with the Ravens desiring more youth in this unit. The 30-year-old Ellis hopes to maintain his grip on the backup nose tackle job, and Crawford hasn’t really stood out thus far.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (6)
IN: Patrick Queen, Malik Harrison, Chris Board, L.J. Fort
BUBBLE: Otaro Alaka, Kristian Welch
LONG SHOT: none
Skinny: The top four appear to be set with Alaka and Welch competing for what they hope will be a fifth spot for a special-teams contributor. That’s far from a guarantee with some of the other crowded position groups on the roster.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (8)
IN: Tyus Bowser, Odafe Oweh, Justin Houston, Pernell McPhee, Daelin Hayes
BUBBLE: Jaylon Ferguson, Chris Smith
LONG SHOT: Aaron Adeoye
Skinny: The addition of Houston wasn’t good news for Ferguson and Smith, who have both flashed in recent practices. You would think the Ravens would really prefer keeping the 2019 third-round pick, but Ferguson hasn’t shown much upside and isn’t a factor on special teams, which won’t help his case on the roster bubble.

CORNERBACKS (11)
IN: Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Jimmy Smith, Tavon Young, Anthony Averett
BUBBLE: Shaun Wade, Chris Westry, Davontae Harris
LONG SHOT: Khalil Dorsey, Nigel Warrior, Iman Marshall
Skinny: Baltimore rarely cuts rookie fifth-round picks, but Wade has experienced his struggles and will need to contribute on special teams to lock up a spot and have a game-day role. His Ohio State pedigree makes it less likely that he’d pass through waivers, another factor helping his roster chances. The 6-foot-4 Westry has been one of the biggest surprises competing at a high level and regularly making plays in coverage, making him the kind of young talent you’d really like to keep in the organization. Given the talent and depth in this group, Harris will need to really shine on special teams to make the roster as even the long shots here carry some intrigue when healthy. However it plays out, the Ravens will likely part ways with a couple guys deserving of being on a roster somewhere.

SAFETIES (7)
IN: Chuck Clark, DeShon Elliott, Brandon Stephens
BUBBLE: Anthony Levine, Jordan Richards, Ar’Darius Washington, Geno Stone
LONG SHOT: none
Skinny: How much do you value mainstays on special teams compared to developmental talent? That’s the decision to be made here with Levine and Richards being core contributors in the third phase of the game, but neither offers much defensive value at this point in their careers. Washington probably has the best chance in the class of undrafted rookies to make the team and has come on lately, but a lack of size and ordinary athletic traits leave him with much work to do. Though the Ravens were glad to bring Stone back to the organization this spring, the 2020 seventh-round pick was waived twice last season and couldn’t stick in Houston either, making you wonder if he’s more of a long shot in reality.

SPECIALISTS (5)
IN: Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Nick Moore
BUBBLE: none
LONG SHOT: Johnny Townsend, Jake Verity
Skinny: The absence of a second long snapper in camp makes it evident how confident special teams coordinator Chris Horton is in Moore replacing the departed Morgan Cox at long snapper.

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Right Now in Baltimore

Right Now in Baltimore

After 26 faithful purple seasons, the Ravens have bullied me out of my seats and denied my media access

This is my story. This is the truth. And it must be told. In its entirety because it's so outrageous as to be almost unbelievable. Covering the Ravens is all I’ve ever done professionally since the team arrived in Baltimore in 1996, and this is how I feed my family and pay my bills as a small local business and AM 1570 radio operator and entrepreneur.

#ColumnNes Regarding Lamar Jackson, the lack of maturity is a bigger issue than an ugly tweet

If Lamar Jackson regrets the statement to the fellow in Pennsylvania, he should’ve offered an apology to him. If he regrets the world seeing his ugly words, Jackson has a platform with a million followers and could’ve offered an apology. If it was truly “out of character,” then show your character and admit a mistake and move on.

Why did Chad Steele take my press credentials after 26 years of covering the Baltimore Ravens?

This is my story in my own words. Listen and learn about how the NFL treats the local media and avoids the tough questions and intimidates local media who have traveled and reported on Baltimore football since before Art Modell brought the Ravens here in 1995. What happened is wrong and here's why...

After 26 faithful purple seasons, the Ravens have bullied me out of my seats and denied my media access

This is my story. This is the truth. And it must be told. In its entirety because it's so outrageous as to be almost unbelievable. Covering the Ravens is all I’ve ever done professionally since the team arrived in Baltimore in 1996, and this is how I feed my family and pay my bills as a small local business and AM 1570 radio operator and entrepreneur.

#ColumnNes Regarding Lamar Jackson, the lack of maturity is a bigger issue than an ugly tweet

If Lamar Jackson regrets the statement to the fellow in Pennsylvania, he should’ve offered an apology to him. If he regrets the world seeing his ugly words, Jackson has a platform with a million followers and could’ve offered an apology. If it was truly “out of character,” then show your character and admit a mistake and move on.

Why did Chad Steele take my press credentials after 26 years of covering the Baltimore Ravens?

This is my story in my own words. Listen and learn about how the NFL treats the local media and avoids the tough questions and intimidates local media who have traveled and reported on Baltimore football since before Art Modell brought the Ravens here in 1995. What happened is wrong and here's why...
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@NestorAparicio

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@BaltimoreLuke

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The WNST Sports Report

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Good Sports

Good Sports

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Now that we've heard Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh profess their burning desire to keep Number 8 in a purple jersey, Leonard Raskin and Nestor discuss the fans' understanding of the business of football and taxes and counting the money of Lamar Jackson.
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Preparing for life after Greg Roman

Luke Jones prepares Dennis Koulatsos for all that happens for Ravens after Greg Roman era
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If Ravens and Lamar divorce, what will they tell the fans?

Bill Cole and Nestor discuss the disappointments of recent Ravens seasons and the apparent souring of the Lamar Jackson relationship in Owings Mills.
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How will Lamar Jackson negotiate his best deal?

Now that we've heard Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh profess their burning desire to keep Number 8 in a purple jersey, Leonard Raskin and Nestor discuss the fans' understanding of the business of football and taxes and counting the money of Lamar Jackson.
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What comes after you hit the big one?

John Martin of Maryland Lottery tells Nestor about aftermath of hitting the big one in Mega Millions or PowerBall.
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Preparing for life after Greg Roman

Luke Jones prepares Dennis Koulatsos for all that happens for Ravens after Greg Roman era
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