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Ravens news, notes and opinions on backup QBs, Ray Rice's status and more

FootballPro FootballBaltimore RavensJohn HarbaughGary KubiakHouston Texans

Ravens coach John Harbaugh briefly spoke to reporters at the team facility Tuesday, reiterating several things that he said at last week’s NFL owners meetings.

The team is still active on the free-agent market and remains in talks with the representatives of free-agent tight ends Ed Dickson and Owen Daniels.

Harbaugh acknowledged that cornerback Corey Graham, who signed last month with the Buffalo Bills, was a significant loss, and while he has confidence in Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson, the Ravens are also looking to add another cornerback.

Backup quarterback market

They also continue to monitor the free-agent backup quarterback market while doing their diligence on the draft-eligible signal-callers.

In discussing the need to add another quarterback to compete for the backup job with Tyrod Taylor, Harbaugh mentioned that offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak is familiar with a couple of the options. He wasn’t specific, though it’s probably worth noting that both Rex Grossman and Dan Orlovsky, among the top quarterbacks available on a thinned-out free-agent market, were with Kubiak’s Houston Texans at one point.

I wrote this last week, but I still think the Texans’ current quarterback situation is worth monitoring for the Ravens. The Texans have three quarterbacks on the roster -- recently signed Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum and T.J. Yates -- and Houston coach Bill O’Brien has already said that the team will draft at least one quarterback in May.

That could leave either Keenum or Yates -- if not both -- as the odd man out. Yates, in particular, would be a nice addition. It wouldn’t hurt to have another person in the quarterback meetings that knows Kubiak’s offense.

Ray Rice's status

Any opportunity to talk to a Ravens decision-maker these days always includes a question about the status of running back Ray Rice. Harbaugh said the Ravens weren’t surprised by Rice’s indictment last week and noted that it really doesn’t change anything.

Harbaugh said Rice will have to deal with the consequences of his actions, but the organization is proud of the steps that he has taken since his arrest. Harbaugh mentioned that Rice is doing a lot of stuff behind-the-scenes, and that includes getting counseling with his wife, Janay Palmer. The two were married last week.

Options on the line

Harbaugh also mentioned that second-year center Ryan Jensen could be a candidate to play left guard, but that obviously wouldn’t be the team’s first choice. Harbaugh acknowledged last week that the Ravens would like to keep Kelechi Osemele at left guard, but those plans could change if the team fails to find a right tackle.

Their top two internal options are Rick Wagner and Jah Reid, but it would be surprising if they didn’t draft a tackle in the first couple rounds next month.

Speaking of right tackle, it wouldn’t be a sexy pick -- and the Ravens may have just as big needs at other spots -- but I’m not sure that selecting Notre Dame’s Zack Martin doesn’t make the most sense for the Ravens. It will all depend, of course, on who is on the board when they prepare to make the 17th overall pick.

Does a player like North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron fall in their laps? What about a pair of former Alabama standouts, linebacker C.J. Mosley and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix? The Ravens have filled enough of their needs in free agency that they’ll be able to stay true to their board.

We’re still more than a month out of the draft, but Martin certainly projects as a safe and solid pick.

One more thought about the offensive line: Jensen may have to prove that he can handle playing guard to make the roster. With the addition of Jeremy Zuttah, the Ravens now have four natural centers on their roster with Jensen, Gino Gradkowski and A.Q. Shipley being the other three.

There is certainly not room on the 53-man roster for all four, so it will help each player’s cause if they can also be counted on at left guard.

Koch and salary cap update

It had been speculated earlier this offseason that veteran punter Sam Koch was a potential salary cap casualty. However, Harbaugh said Tuesday that was not a consideration.

The Ravens may bring in some competition for Koch during training camp, but the veteran still has a strong hold on the punting job.

The Ravens still have about $7 million of salary cap space available, and their remaining needs have been well documented.

A small portion of that money will go toward signing their draft picks. The bet here is the Ravens sign another one or two low-priced free agents, including a tight end, and then try to keep some of the financial flexibility to re-sign a guy like wide receiver Torrey Smith to a long-term deal before the start of the season.

These things are always easier said than done, but the Ravens view Smith as an essential part of their future.

Smith, who has established strong roots in the area, has made it clear that he doesn’t want to go anywhere. And the Ravens have been able to strike deals with Smith’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, in the past.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jeffzrebiecsun

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FootballPro FootballBaltimore RavensJohn HarbaughGary KubiakHouston Texans
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