The Baltimore Ravens trimmed their roster down to 53 players but may still have some moves to make. Two players that they released cornerback/return man Asa Jackson and a 2015 fifth round selection in offensive lineman Robert Myers were claimed by the New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts. The team is in the midst of forming their practice squad and is certainly on the lookout for a possible addition of a kickoff returner.
The initial 53-man roster currently stands as follows:
Quarterbacks (2): Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub
Flacco has started every game since his rookie season. He may not put up the huge stats that fantasy football folks desire but he is a proven quarterback that can make all throws. Schaub provides a veteran backup that won’t require any true change in scheme if Flacco should go down.
Running backs (4): Justin Forsett, Kyle Juszczyk, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Buck Allen
Juszczyk could be an option in the short passing game. Forsett and Buck Allen will also see their share of targets out of the backfield. Forsett was a third down back when he first broke into the NFL, while Allen had over 60 receptions in his last season at USC. Taliaferro will be back from a knee injury at some point and he has some receiver in his playing background.
Tight ends (3): Crockett Gillmore, Nick Boyle, Maxx Williams
Gillmore will be a breakout player for the Ravens this year (see below). Williams is still adjusting to the physicality of the NFL but he is a nice option for Flacco as well. Boyle will play primarily a blocking role.
Wide receivers (6): Steve Smith Sr., Kamar Aiken, Breshad Perriman, Marlon Brown, Michael Campanaro, Darren Waller
Smith Sr. will need to put up another big year for this offense while Aiken is a player that the Ravens have shown the desire to build into a vertical threat. Aiken does a good job of working at the line to get open right away on the slant route which could be an option in the red zone. Brown and Waller bring nice size on down field back shoulder throws and on crossing routes. Perriman is a mystery at this point due to his injury status. Campanaro is a weapon that should have a 5-10 play package to take advantage of favorable mismatches against linebackers or the opposing team’s third corner in the slot.
Offensive line (8): Eugene Monroe, Rick Wagner, Marshal Yanda, Kelechi Osemele, Jeremy Zuttah, John Urschel, James Hurst, Ryan Jensen
Monroe has slimmed down and is much quicker on his feet as a result. Wagner is still working back from the foot injury and will have James Hurst waiting to step in if need be. Osemele and Yanda for the best guard tandem in the NFL. Urschel and Jensen give the Ravens two players that can play all positions on the line.
Defensive line (8): Chris Canty, Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, Lawrence Guy, Carl Davis, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Christo Bilukidi, Brent Urban.
Williams is developing into one of the best run stopping nose tackles. Jernigan when healthy provides a pass rushing element sorely needed from the defensive line. If he isn’t ready to go, Carl Davis will be the next man up. Urban is likely to be placed on injured reserve with return designation meaning he won’t be back until week seven.
Inside linebackers (5): Daryl Smith, C.J. Mosley, Zachary Orr, Albert McClellan, Arthur Brown
Smith and Mosley are solid. Both can blitz inside gaps and are usually the first to the ball carrier. Orr and Brown provide very athletic backups and along with McClellan will be core special teams players.
Outside linebackers (4): Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, Za’Darius Smith
Upshaw sets the edge very well against the run. Dumervil comes in on passing situations and always gives taller offensive linemen fits. Suggs is a force coming off the edge as well. Keep an eye on Za’Darius Smith. He has lined up at six of the seven spots on the front seven and consistently got pressure on the passer during the preseason.
Cornerbacks (5): Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb, Kyle Arrington, Rashaan Melvin, Tray Walker
Smith will draw the opposing team’s top receiver from time to time. He is ready to show that he is a top level corner. Webb is fighting a hamstring injury but is said to be ready to go. If he isn’t, Melvin is ready to step in as the starter. Arrington will handle the nickel but has struggled against bigger receivers. Walker is fighting to gain more confidence but once he gets on track, he will be a solid press corner.
Safeties (5): Kendrick Lewis, Will Hill, Terrence Brooks, Anthony Levine, Brynden Trawick
The addition of Lewis should be a big help in decreasing the amount of chunk plays that teams get against the Ravens defense. Hill is in a great spot having just signed a deal and can play in the box or in single high. Brooks has some cover ability and can drop in the box against slot receivers. Levine started at corner at one point last year but he and Trawick will be core special teams players.
Specialists (3): Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Morgan Cox
Tucker and Koch are two of the best at their respective positions. Tucker is money from 50 plus yards and has kicked a 68 yard field goal with ease during practice.
Five key players to team’s success
Kendrick Lewis: Lewis is known for his high football IQ. He is a great communicator and will be a big help when it comes to getting guys lined up along with making the calls in the secondary. The Ravens gave up a lot of big plays last year, mostly due to mistakes in the secondary. Lewis has range and rarely gives up big plays.
Michael Campanaro: Campanaro will be the Ravens punt returner and possibly the kickoff returner as well. He is a shifty, dynamic playmaker that should give the offense a shorter field to travel after punt returns. Campanaro is also a mismatch option from the slot when he runs choice routes and can be a threat when running the post. He will be a valuable asset for Flacco, especially on third downs.
Crockett Gillmore: Gillmore makes no secret of his likeness for blocking. He will see an increased role in the passing game however. Flacco likes to get the ball to his tight ends. It’s a pattern that started with Todd Heap and has extended to Gillmore via Dennis Pitta. Gillmore is a nifty route runner that has a knack for getting open in the middle of the field. He brings some run after the catch ability also. The tight end position will see increased reps because of Marc Trestman’s ability to create match up advantages that favor the offense. Gillmore can also get up the seam and use his big frame to create separation. He has no fear catching the ball in traffic and will run over defenders when given the opportunity.
Marshall Yanda: The Ravens are a right handed team. They like to run the ball to the right behind Yanda. Yanda does an excellent job of turning the defender and opens up seams for the running back. He also does a great job of throwing cut blocks to wipe out defenders on the back side of plays which opens up a cutback lane. Yanda is in a contract year and will earn the big deal that he has coming is way.
Carl Davis: It’s rare that a rookie, let alone a third round pick is looked upon as a key to a team’s success. Davis is a player that will be relied upon to help fill the void left when the team traded Haloti Ngata. He can play all three positions on the defensive line. Davis was able to provide a consistent push on the inside and was very stout against the run. The rookie defensive lineman also uses precise timing to knock down passes at the line of scrimmage. If Jernigan continues to fight injuries, Davis will be thrust into the starting role.