Ravens quarterback Bryn Renner (2) passes against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of a preseason game, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, in Atlanta.
Ravens quarterback Bryn Renner (2) passes against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of a preseason game, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, in Atlanta. (Brynn Anderson / Associated Press)

The Ravens used most of their practice squad spots Sunday to bring back players who impressed the team during the preseason but were squeezed off the 53-man roster. They did make one outside acquisition, signing a player whose versatility, effort and taste in colorful socks made him one of the stars of the HBO show "Hard Knocks."

A day after he was waived by the Houston Texans, Charles James agreed to join the Ravens practice squad. James, 25, who played at Charleston Southern, is a 5-foot-9 cornerback who also can contribute on special teams. Texans coach Bill O'Brien even used James as a running back in the preseason; he scored a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints, only to have it called back by a holding penalty.


James had not signed a contract as of Sunday night, so the Ravens had not announced his deal. They did confirm seven other practice squad signings: quarterback Bryn Renner, wide receiver Jeremy Butler, tight end Konrad Reuland, offensive linemen Kaleb Johnson and De'Ondre Wesley, outside linebacker Brennen Beyer and safety Nick Perry. All seven were released by the Ravens as they cut down their roster, first to 75 players and then to 53 on Saturday.

The Ravens also agreed to a practice squad deal with wide receiver Daniel Brown, the undrafted rookie out of James Madison who caught two touchdown passes in the preseason and also blocked a punt. When the deals for James and Brown become official, the Ravens will have one open spot on their practice squad.

They also will have an opening on their 53-man roster when second-year defensive end Brent Urban, who had surgery to repair a torn biceps last month, is moved to injured reserve with a designation to return. The Ravens could have made that move, which would allow Urban to return to the practice field after six weeks and to game action after eight, beginning at 4 p.m. Sunday.

When the move is announced, the Ravens could add a player to their 53-man roster ahead of the team's regular-season opener against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. The most logical addition would be a running back, as Lorenzo Taliaferro's knee injury has left them with just two healthy backs: starter Justin Forsett and rookie backup Buck Allen.

The Ravens could re-sign Fitzgerald Toussaint or Terrence Magee, who were both cut Saturday, or could target a veteran free agent. The Denver Broncos cut Montee Ball, a second-round NFL draft pick in 2013, who might be intriguing to the Ravens because their running backs coach, Thomas Hammock, was Ball's position coach at Wisconsin. But Ball will be put on waivers, and other teams will have a shot at claiming him ahead of the Ravens.

What the Ravens do know is that cornerback-returner Asa Jackson, tackle Jah Reid and guard Robert Myers will not be returning. The players, among the team's more high-profile cuts Saturday, were claimed by other teams, with Jackson going to the New York Giants, Reid reportedly signing with the Kansas City Chiefs, and Myers being awarded to the Indianapolis Colts.

Jackson had bright spots as a returner for the Ravens in the preseason but fumbled punts in the final two games. Myers was viewed as a bit of a project when the Ravens drafted him out of Tennessee State in the fifth round, so it was surprising that they cut ties with him so quickly. He's the highest draft pick the Ravens have cut after one preseason since tight end Davon Drew, also a fifth-round selection, was waived in 2009.

Otherwise, Sunday was more about re-signing players who showed progress in the preseason but were victimized by a roster crunch. The Ravens are known as one of the NFL's more aggressive teams in building their practice squad and have not been afraid to pay higher salaries to retain or acquire a player they covet.

When they have an opening on the 53-man roster, the Ravens, in many cases, choose to promote a player from the practice squad rather than look outside the organization. Practice squad players can be signed to another team's active roster at any point during the season. That was the case in October, when the Ravens lost outside linebacker John Simon to the Houston Texans. The Ravens nabbed cornerback Rashaan Melvin off the Miami Dolphins' practice squad in November.

But the Ravens want as many internal options as possible. James will provide needed depth; the Ravens have just five cornerbacks on the 53-man roster.

Though the Ravens chose to go with just two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster for the sixth straight year, Renner made a nice impression with a solid preseason. He completed 43 of 65 passes (66.2 percent) for 409 yards and four touchdowns, with two interceptions. The former North Carolina quarterback led a late-game comeback to beat the New Orleans Saints in the Ravens' only preseason win.

Butler, who spent last season on IR with a shoulder injury, caught 10 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown during the preseason, while Brown had four catches for 58 yards and his two touchdowns.

Notes: Center Gino Gradkowski, whom the Ravens traded to the Broncos in April, was released by Denver. … Defensive linemen DeAngelo Tyson and Micajah Reynolds, who were waived-injured Saturday, reverted to IR. … Former Ravens sixth-round pick Keith Wenning, a quarterback, was signed to the Cincinnati Bengals' practice squad. … On the same day the Cleveland Browns traded former Towson and Northwestern star Terrance West to the Tennessee Titans for a seventh-round draft pick, they added former Gilman standout Darius Jennings to their practice squad.


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