The Ravens' roster remained heavy on wide receivers and precariously light on healthy tight ends as they got down to the limit of 53 players before a Saturday night NFL deadline.
Although the Ravens cut ties with disappointing wide receiver Tandon Doss, they still have seven wide receivers on the roster.
Doss' release didn't come as a surprise considering his inconsistent performance, catching just seven passes for 123 yards and one touchdown in two seasons in Baltimore since being drafted in 2011 in the fourth round out of Indiana.
Doss was also playing at a crowded position that includes starters Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, veteran slot receiver Brandon Stokley along with rookies Marlon Brown and Aaron Mellette making the team as promising newcomers.
A 6-foot-5, 205-pound undrafted rookie from Georgia, Brown led the Ravens during the preseason with 10 receptions for 169 yards and two touchdowns. A seventh-rounder from Elon, Mellette finished the preseason with nine catches, 140 yards and two touchdowns. In particular, Brown's play is regarded as a boost to the offensive and another free agent success story after he tore an anterior cruciate ligament last November in a game against Mississippi.
The addition of Stokley, a polished route-runner with sound hands, was particularly damaging to Doss' status after he was projected to compete for a starting job heading into training camp.
Plus, the Ravens have two injured receivers that provide special-teams value when healthy: Deonte Thompson, who's sidelined with a sprained left foot, and LaQuan Williams, a former Maryland and Poly player dealing with a minor strained hamstring.
The Ravens still have tight end Dennis Pitta on the active roster for now after he underwent surgery to repair a fractured, dislocated right hip in August because they can't place him on the injured reserve-designated to return list until Tuesday.
The Ravens cut veteran tight end Billy Bajema and undrafted rookie tight end Matt Furstenburg (Maryland). They’ve already discussed bringing back Bajema prior to the season-opener Thursday against the Denver Broncos and would like to sign Furstenburg to the practice squad Sunday if he clears waivers, according to sources.
Starting tight end Ed Dickson is coming off a partially torn hamstring and is backed up by Dallas Clark.
Rookie center Ryan Jensen remains on the active roster at this time despite undergoing surgery for a broken foot suffered in the first preseason game. Although Jensen is off crutches, he remains in a walking boot and is still regarded as a potential injured reserve candidate.
Diminutive all-purpose running back Bobby Rainey was cut despite a strong preseason finale during a 24-21 loss to the St. Louis Rams where he rushed for two touchdowns, displaying moves and second effort.
Rainey was released primarily because the Ravens have two established running backs in Pro Bowl selection Ray Rice and backup Bernard Pierce, and the team is carrying two fullbacks in Vonta Leach and rookie Kyle Juszczyk. If he clears waivers, Rainey is among the players the Ravens have targeted for the practice squad.
After cutting safety Omar Brown, the Ravens have five safeties on the roster. That included undrafted rookie Brynden Trawick beating the odds and Anthony Levine making the team for the second year in a row.
Trawick is a big safety at 6-2, 215 pounds who was retained for his special teams skills. He blocked a punt recovered for a touchdown in the preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Ravens have just four cornerbacks on the roster in Lardarius Webb, Corey Graham, Jimmy Smith and Chykie Brown and haven't made it a secret that they would like to obtain reinforcements at that position. Brown hasn't made many plays on the ball during the preseason.
The Ravens also released defensive tackle Cody Larsen, offensive guard Antoine McClain and offensive tackle J.J. Unga, all of whom are eligible for the practice squad.
Because of his connections to Ravens run-game coordinator Juan Castillo, former Philadelphia Eagles first-round offensive guard Danny Watkins was immediately linked to Baltimore in speculation.
Watkins was released Saturday amidst reports that he lacks desire and toughness. Castillo was his offensive line coach in Philadelphia when the Eagles drafted him in 2011.
Watkins is subject to waivers, so other teams would have a higher ranking in the priority order for roster claims than the Ravens, who rank last on that list as the defending Super Bowl champions.
Watkins is due a guaranteed $1.096 million base salary this year, another negative factor.
The Ravens have the standard nine offensive linemen, including Jensen and starters Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, Marshall Yanda and Michael Oher, on the active roster.
One of the players that was on the roster bubble that made the team was defensive end DeAngelo Tyson.
Tyson is a 2012 seventh-round draft pick from Georgia who had 11 tackles as he started two games as a rookie last season.
The Ravens also held onto nose tackle Terrence Cody, a former starter who has recovered from offseason hip and elbow surgeries. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is now the Ravens' starting nose guard, shifting inside to a spot where he has traditionally dominated centers.
Trawick was fined $21,000 by the NFL for a blindside hit in the third quarter of the Ravens' preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers. He's in the process of appealing the punishment after the league fined him for a block that didn't draw a penalty, but was regarded as unnecessary roughness by NFL vice president of football operations Merton Hanks. Trawick is signed to a three-year, $1.487 million contract, including a $405,000 base salary this year and a $2,000 signing bonus. ... Rush outside linebacker Pernell McPhee is making progress while still dealing with knee soreness, according to a source. ... Safety Christian Thompson (four games for violating NFL substance-abuse policy) and cornerback Asa Jackson (eight games for violating NFL performance-enhancing drug policy for unauthorized use of Adderall) have been shifted to reserve-suspended lists and no longer are on the active roster.
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