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Will trends continue with composition of Ravens roster?

The Ravens have kept seven wide receivers in back-to-back seasons.

The Ravens’ first full-team training camp practice is still over a month away, giving us plenty of time to dissect and discuss the team’s roster, the top position competitions and the players who figure to be on the bubble.

The majority of those conversations will be had closer to training camp. However, now is not too early to look at the composition of the Ravens’ regular-season opening rosters during coach John Harbaugh’s seven-season tenure.

They potentially provide a glimpse of certain trends that may come into play before the Ravens settle on a 53-man roster ahead of their Sept. 13 regular-season opener against the Denver Broncos. Here’s a position-by-position look:

Quarterbacks

History under Harbaugh: The Ravens kept three quarterbacks in each of Harbaugh’s first two seasons as Kyle Boller and Troy Smith joined rookie Joe Flacco on the roster in 2008, and Flacco was backed up by Smith and John Beck in 2009. However, Harbaugh has kept just two quarterbacks in five consecutive seasons.

What that means for this year: Flacco has never missed a start and the Ravens have taken advantage of his durability by keeping just two quarterbacks. The Ravens currently have four signal callers on the 90-man roster, but it would be surprising if it’s anybody but Joe Flacco and Matt Schaub on the 53-man to start the season.

Running backs and fullbacks

History under Harbaugh: In all but one of his seven seasons, Harbaugh has broken camp with four running backs on the roster. The only exception was in 2009 when the team’s group of backs included Willis McGahee, Ray Rice, Jalen Parmele, Matt Lawrence and fullback Le’Ron McClain.

What that means for this year: That the Ravens would be more than comfortable keeping just three ball carriers, plus fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Justin Forsett, Lorenzo Taliaferro and Buck Allen are all pretty much locks to make the team.

Wide receiver

History under Harbaugh: The Ravens have kept as few as four wide receivers (in 2009) and as many as seven. They’ve also had years where they’ve kept five or six. The past two seasons, seven receivers have dotted the season-opening roster. 

What that means for this year: That it’s anybody’s guess how many receivers will crack the roster. The Ravens currently have 11 and the battle for the wide receiver spots will be one of the of most intriguing roster competitions of training camp. Health and special teams considerations will factor in, but it would be hard to imagine the Ravens keeping fewer than six receivers.

Tight end

History under Harbaugh: The Ravens have kept three tight ends on their roster to start seven consecutive seasons.

What that means for this year: That they’ll probably keep three again, but that may depend on the health of Dennis Pitta. If Pitta decides to play in 2015 and could be ready for the opener, the Ravens would probably keep four tight ends: Crockett Gillmore and draft picks Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle.

Offensive line

History under Harbaugh: There have been nine offensive linemen on the season-opening roster in all but one of the past seven seasons. The exception came in 2010 when the Ravens opted to keep eight.

What that means for this year: Assuming there are no injuries, the top seven up front appear set with Eugene Monroe, Kelechi Osemele, Jeremy Zuttah, Marshal Yanda and Rick Wagner starting and John Urschel and James Hurst serving as the top backups. They’ll probably carry one or two more with fifth-round pick Robert Myers and holdovers Jah Reid and Ryan Jensen among the most likely candidates.

Defensive line

History under Harbaugh: It’s been all over the map. The Ravens kept six in 2009 and 2011, seven in 2009, 2012 and 2013, eight in 2010 and five last season.

What that means for this year: If the Ravens think a defensive lineman can help them in 2015 or even down the road, they’ll find a way to keep him. The front office very much values having defensive line depth. Their current roster is loaded with young defensive linemen, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to see as many as eight of them make the team.

Linebackers

History under Harbaugh: Eleven linebackers made the 2011 squad, but more often than not, the Ravens have kept nine or 10. It’s been nine the past two seasons.

What that means for this year: That there won’t be many open roster spots at outside or inside linebacker with the return of Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, Daryl Smith, C.J. Mosley, Zach Orr, Albert McClellan and Arthur Brown and the drafting of Za’Darius Smith.

Cornerbacks

History under Harbaugh: As the NFL has morphed more into a passing league over the years, teams are carrying more corners. However, that’s not necessarily been the case with the Ravens. They had seven on Harbaugh’s first roster in 2008, but just four in 2013 and five last season.

What that means for this year: After dealing with so many injuries at the position last year, the Ravens figure to keep as many cornerbacks as they possibly can. That bodes well for potential “bubble” guys like Asa Jackson, Cassius Vaughn and Tramain Jacobs. It would make sense for the Ravens to keep five or six corners on the roster and one or two more on the practice squad.

Safeties

History under Harbaugh: Last season, the Ravens carried six safeties on the season-opening roster, but that was the most in the Harbaugh era. Traditionally, they’ve kept either four or five.

What that means for this year: That they’ll probably keep either four or five again, though the final number may depend on whether Terrence Brooks, a third-round pick last season who tore up his knee in December, starts the season on the active roster or the physically unable to perform list. Special teams will obviously factor here as safeties like Anthony Levine and Brynden Trawick have been members of the kick and punt coverage units.

Kicking

History under Harbaugh: In the coach’s first season, the Ravens kept two kickers (Matt Stover and Steven Hauschka) along with a long snapper and punter. But in every year since, they’ve gone with the standard three.

What that means for this year: There won’t be any changes. Kicker Justin Tucker has one of the strongest legs in the league and punter Sam Koch remains one of the team’s steadiest performers. Assuming long snapper Morgan Cox shows that he’s recovered from a knee injury, the Ravens’ three-man kicking battery will remain the same.

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