With the Ravens having set their initial 53-man roster ahead of the start of the 2022 season, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. Kenyan Drake should bring more juice than the September additions of Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray last season, but it reflects just how ordinary this running back group looked all spring and summer. The upside of this backfield still hinges on J.K. Dobbins looking like his old self.
2. After enduring the 2021 run of injuries, Baltimore counting on Drake coming off a major ankle injury and surgery isn’t ideal, but that partly explains why he was available in the first place. It also helps that the 28-year-old went through a similar recovery with his other ankle years ago.
3. Ronnie Stanley always needed to be removed from the physically unable to perform list by Tuesday to avoid missing a minimum of four games, but why announce it last Friday if he still wasn’t going to be practicing? Such optics aren’t helping what continues to be a frustrating situation.
4. With Stanley’s early-season status in doubt and Daniel Faalele sidelined with a knee injury, the Ravens probably need to lean on contingency plans that include Patrick Mekari in the tackle mix with Morgan Moses and Ja’Wuan James. That could help explain why Trystan Colon made the 53-man roster.
5. Even if we learn Daelin Hayes is dealing with a long-term injury, waiving him didn’t speak to the organization thinking very much of his development with just two healthy outside linebackers on the initial 53-man roster. He’ll either be claimed by another team or revert to injured reserve.
6. Wide receiver remains a legitimate question mark, but it was encouraging seeing James Proche return to practice after missing three weeks. Rookie cornerback Damarion Williams was also back on the field as the Ravens try to get as healthy as possible with the opener less than two weeks away.
7. I thought Isaiah Mack had impressed enough to earn a spot, but Anthony Weaver saying he wouldn’t be shocked to see Travis Jones “defy the odds of the timetable they’ve given him” to return makes it easier to understand. I’d be surprised if Mack isn’t playing somewhere soon.
8. Even with Charlie Kolar going on IR, there was no bigger surprise — relatively speaking — than Josh Oliver making the roster after an underwhelming 2021, Isaiah Likely’s arrival, and a nondescript summer. Perhaps some concerns remain about Nick Boyle, but Oliver doesn’t really fit the mold of a blocking tight end.
9. With the nature of today’s NFL, Eric DeCosta probably feels good about his odds of getting a sixth-round rookie running back through waivers and on the practice squad. Still, he wouldn’t risk that if Tyler Badie had flashed more often during the summer, especially given the state of that position.
10. I’m sure the organization didn’t love seeing Lamar Jackson tweeting about negotiations with fans and “liking” a doctored image of him in a Miami Dolphins jersey, but it’d be naïve to think there isn’t some frustration for both parties after 18 months of contract speculation and talks. That’s just reality.
11. Baltimore released and re-signed four vested veterans — Justin Ellis, Anthony Levine, Pernell McPhee, and Eric Tomlinson — during final cuts last season. All but McPhee appeared in all 17 games. Just remember there is no shortage of roster possibilities over the next few days.
12. Nineteen players cut Tuesday took part in a practice concluding an hour earlier. A sizable number will join the practice squad, but that’s still weird to me. I picture those individuals going inside to find a tag in their lockers like in “Major League” — even if that doesn’t actually happen.