Quarterback Curtis Painter has been through this before so the last thing he was going to do was drive himself crazy pondering his status. Defensive tackle Bryan Hall can joke about pretty much anything, and that includes his spot on the roster bubble.
The Ravens finished the preseason Thursday night with an otherwise forgettable performance in a 31-17 loss to the St. Louis Rams at a mostly empty Edward Jones Dome. Playing mostly against second and third-team players, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford threw three first half touchdowns as the Ravens trailed by 28 points early in the third quarter.
When the Ravens preseason came to a merciful end with a 2-2 record, the Ravens' starters immediately turned their attention to the Sept. 10 opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, while some of their younger players pondered their football fate.
Clapping as he walked off the field following the game, running back Ray Rice, who was among 18 Raven regulars who were held out of the game by coach John Harbaugh, said “The real stuff begins now.”
Before that happens though, the Ravens will have to cut their roster from 75 to 53 by 9 p.m. Friday. That made Thursday's game crucial for many of the organization's younger players. Some like Thompson and Hall may have only helped their status.
Others like third-year linebacker Sergio Kindle, probably the highest-profile Raven on the roster bubble, and Painter may have opened the door for other players. Kindle committed a foolish roughing the passer penalty on Bradford that prolonged a second-quarter drive long enough for the quarterback to victimize linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, and hit Michael Hoomanawanui on a 9-yard touchdown pass.
Meanwhile, Painter directed all three Ravens' scoring drives in relief of starter Tyrod Taylor but also threw three interceptions including ones on back-to-back snaps, and one that got returned for a 76-yard touchdown by rookie Janoris Jenkins.
“There's not much I can do about it,” Painter said. “All that has been done has been done at this point. I'm not going to worry too much about it. It's out of my hands. I'm just going to keep rolling until they tell me not to.”
Painter was hoping to convince Harbaugh to keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. The Ravens coach praised the veteran quarterback, but acknowledged that his status is one thing that has to be decided. Starter Joe Flacco, who also didn't play Thursday , has never missed a game and the Ravens have kept just two quarterbacks on the roster the past two seasons.
“I think Curtis has had a really good preseason,” Harbaugh said. “I really like him a lot, the way he carries himself in the building, all those things. Whether we keep two or three quarterbacks, we have not made that decision yet. That will come down to whether we feel like we have the spot.”
Harbaugh will also have to decide whether the team should keep six receivers, but that now appears to be a formality after Thompson, a rookie out of Florida, completed a dynamic preseason with his best game yet. Thompson's 11-yard touchdown reception from Painter was his most memorable play, but he was a force throughout.
“I gave it my all so I just have to sit back and wait,” Thompson said. “I think I put the best I can put out. I can do better, but I think I put on a good show.”
Hall, a former rookie free agent who spent last season on the Ravens' practice squad, expressed similar sentiments after a game in which he had four tackles, including one for a loss, while playing defensive tackle, defensive end and even a little middle linebacker. Hall could be competing against seventh-round pick DeAngelo Tyson for the final spot in the Ravens' defensive line rotation, and both were among the team's defensive standouts .
“I truly felt like I just put it out there on the line, I don't have any regrets at all,” Hall said. “Whatever happens [Friday], it happens. I think I played as best as I could.”
He and every other player on the roster bubble will find out Friday if it was enough.
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