Thursday night's preseason finale against the St. Louis Rams should be a prime opportunity for either Prescott Burgess, Edgar Jones, Jason Phillips and rookie Albert McClellan to make a compelling case to be retained at linebacker.
For those four players, it's a chance to secure a future in the NFL despite playing in what many fans and media decry as a meaningless preseason contest.
"It always means something," Burgess said. "You're trying to show the coaches what you can do out there when they put you in the game and just go out and play football. They want to see what you've got, and also, you're trying to make a team. So the preseason is real important for the guys that aren't returning starters and are trying to make a name for themselves."
Burgess is tied for third in tackles with nine and leads the defense in sacks with two. Phillips is first in tackles with 11 and also has a sack. Jones posted a sack in the Ravens' 24-10 win against the New York Giants last Saturday night, and McClellan has been a contributor on both defense and special teams.
Jones, who has played tight end at times for the Ravens, is tied with Tavares Gooden for first with three tackles on special teams – an area that coaches weigh heavily.
"It was big, to go out there and get that big sack, and also, just to perform on special teams," Jones said. "There are still some things I can correct on defense and special teams. But that sack was big. I think I had a couple big plays on special teams, so it was all big."
Even if these players aren't retained, they might latch onto another NFL franchise after final cuts on Saturday. That's an option that the players would prefer to avoid.
"I love playing here, and I love this organization," Phillips said. "I've kind of gotten into almost a rhythm with some of the guys, and I'm really starting to figure things out. I don't want to go anywhere else, but if it comes, then I have to."