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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Projecting the Ravens’ 53-man roster: With Justin Houston returning, here’s the team entering training camp

With the Ravens season opener just two months away, the injury-filled 2021 setbacks are still swirling through the team.

Until it becomes clear how the rehab Ravens will be cleared for training camp later this month, it’s hard to know who might be ready for Week 1. This will leave the Presidency Ravens’ 53-man roster without much room for a quick recovery and good health. Surprise rehab shocks and new injuries will shake things up again.

A one-year deal for the Ravens’ outside linebacker Justin Houston effectively took an open position, and more moves are on the way. The NFL’s first wave of cuts, as of August 16, will trim the roster from 90 players to 85. The second, on August 23, will take them to 80. On August 30, three days after the Ravens’ preseason finale, teams must finalize their initial 53-man roster. Here’s what the Ravens could look like:

Crime

Quarterback (2): Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley

With Trace McSorley now in Arizona, it doesn’t make sense for the Ravens to have three quarterbacks on their roster. Considering Jackson’s availability issues last year, that might be a bad thing. Considering squeezing the roster elsewhere, that could also be a good thing.

running back (4): JK Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Tyler Baddie, Justice Hill

Uncertainty related to the injury at the top of the depth chart could dampen the intrigue of the competition below. If Dobbins and Edwards, both recovering from ACL tears at the end of the season, are cleared for the start of the season, the Ravens will likely only make room for two more backs. Baddie should lock in for a spot, and if the sixth-round pick goes past Mike Davis in camp, Healthy Hill’s special teams contributions could knock Davis off the roster. But if Dobbins or Edwards’ rehab takes place in September, the Ravens will have to make room for at least two and perhaps three other ball carriers.

Wide Receiver (4): Rashod Bateman, Devin DuVernay, James Proche II, Tylon Wallace

The top four here, although they sort themselves out, remain settled – until General Manager Eric DeCosta decides to bring in an experienced receiver. Free agent TY Hilton almost signed with the Ravens last year, and Julio Jones, Will Fuller V and Emmanuel Sanders are all looking for homes. The team’s rookie class of reluctant receivers was mostly anonymous in the mandatory minicamp, so long as there’s no camp sensation – Jaylon Moore? Benjamin Victor? Slade Bolden? – Ability of particular teams may determine whether another location becomes available.

Tight End/Fullback (5): Mark Andrews, Patrick Ricard, Nick Boyle, Charlie Kolar, Isaiah Potentially

There is not much roster bubble here. If everyone stays healthy – and all eyes will be on Boyle after his injury in 2020 and 2021 – the Ravens are expected to keep four tight ends and a fullback. But if a spot opens up, will DeCosta look to a wide receiver or Josh Oliver for passing-game help?

Offensive Tackle (4): Ronnie Stanley, Morgan Moses, Jawuan James, Danielle Falle

Coach John Harbaugh said at the minicamp that Stanley’s surgically repaired left ankle “looks great,” good news for the Ravens offensive line that needs to keep its star left tackle healthy. After struggling with injury last season, though, how many tackles will Ravens officials need to feel safe this fall? James has his own injury history. Fale is still playing his way into shape. And if the left guard or center position gets hairy, the versatile Patrick McCreery may be needed inside.

Inner Offensive Line (6): Patrick McCurry, Tyler Linderbaum, Kevin Zeitler, Ben Cleveland, Tyre Phillips, Ben Powers

Linderbaum and Zeitler are pencil-in starters in the center and right guard respectively. On the left guard, there are some question marks. The Ravens traded Jermaine Alumnore near the end of a training camp fight in 2019, and it’s not hard to imagine history repeating itself this summer. But who will be there to catch? Cleveland is a 2021 third-round pick, and the Ravens are loath to part with recent selections. Phillips is the 2020 third-rounder who was promising enough to start last year’s season. And the Powers started 12 games in 2021, which is more than the totals of Cleveland and the Phillies. It’s also worth seeing who is taking pictures at the center. If Makery is working exclusively as a guard and tackle, the Ravens might keep Tristan Colon around as Linderbaum’s backup.

Defense

Defensive Line (6): Kallis Campbell, Michael Pierce, Justin Madubiuk, Broderick Washington, Brent Urban, Travis Jones

When the Ravens signed Urban in May, the writing was on the wall for Derek Wolfe. With Wolff’s release as part of an injury settlement last month, the defensive line has a solid two-depth in all three places. Pierce’s no-show in the minicamp was worrying, but Harbaugh indicated he expected to return to good health for training camp. If the Ravens need extra assist, they can keep Isaiah Mack or Aaron Crawford or sign another tackle.

Outside Linebacker (5): Tyes Bowser, Odafe Oweh, Justin Houston, Dellyn Hayes, Vince Beigel

After tearing his Achilles tendon in March, second-rounder David Ojabo won’t be ready for some time. If he starts the season on the reserve/nonfootball injury list, he will be inactive for at least the first six weeks of practice and miss at least the Ravens’ first eight games. Houston’s return should add to the depth of the situation, especially after the sudden death of Jalon Ferguson, but injury concerns remain. If Bowser (the Achilles tendon) isn’t expected to be ready by Week 1, or if another contributor gets a bump in preseason, the Ravens will have to do their homework on free agents like Jason Pierre-Paul and Carlos Dunlop II.

Inside Linebacker (4): Patrick Queen, Josh Bynes, Malik Harrison, Christian Welcho

Despite their shortcomings in clear passing conditions, Queen and Bynes were solid run defenders in their first year as a starting pair. If there’s a similar carryover this season, the Ravens’ reliance on “box” safaris like Chuck Clark and first-round pick Kyle Hamilton should ease concerns about group depth. Harrison and Welch are well positioned to hold onto their reserve spots, if only because of their larger roles on the Ravens’ special team units. However, without draft rookies Diego Fagot (Navy), Josh Ross and Jacoby McClain could challenge for a spot.

Cornerback (6): Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Brandon Stephens, Kyle Fuller, Jalyn Armor-Davis, Damarian “Pepe” Williams

The group will enter the season looking nothing like last year, especially if Peters, who is still rehabilitating a torn ACL, is cleared to play. Stephens would be needed more at cornerback, where he played most often in college, than in safety, where he played most often as a rookie. Fuller was a major free-agent acquisition. And fourth-round picks Armor-Davis and Williams have impressed with the entire offseason workout. Kevon Seymour, who played heavily on both defense and special teams at the end of last season, has a solid reserve that will enter camp on the bubble.

Security (4): Marcus Williams, Chuck Clark, Kyle Hamilton, Geno Stone

This must be one of the fiercest rooster battles in the camp. If the Ravens see Stephens as a part-time security, will they really hire five full-time personnel in the position? If not, fourth and final place is likely to come to Stone, who took a step forward in his second year at Baltimore, and Jefferson, who turned his career around in his second stint at Baltimore. The abilities of Stone’s special teams may be too much to overcome there. The biggest variable is Clark; If he is traded before the season, Stone and Jefferson will have better roster prospects. So does Ar’Darius Washington, who needs to impress after missing an off-season workout to rehab for a leg injury.

special team

Expert (3): Justin Tucker, Jordan Stout, Nick Moore

Moore switched over to Morgan Cox last year, and the Ravens’ kicking battery was hardly a beat. Replacing Sam Koch will be no easy task, but with a now-retired punter as a special team consultant, Stout will have one of the game’s best resources on speed dial.

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World Nation News Desk
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