Judging by my Twitter mentions, Ravens' fans really miss Paul Kruger. I've been inundated with questions about whether the Ravens will bring the outside linebacker back after his relatively surprising release Monday by the Cleveland Browns.
I wouldn't completely rule it out because Kruger was a solid player and citizen with the Ravens and they're always looking to upgrade their pass rush.
However, I don't think it makes much sense. The Ravens have veterans Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil and Albert McClellan, along with young pass rushers Matthew Judon, Kamalei Correa and Za'Darius Smith. That's a good mixture of experience and youth at outside linebacker, and I don't see where Kruger fits in that mix.
With the future of Suggs and Dumervil uncertain beyond this season, the Ravens really need to see whether guys like Judon, Correa and Smith can make an impact. Plus, it's not really Ozzie Newsome's style to bring an ex-Raven back on the roster late in the player's career. It's happened, but not very often.
Other former Ravens to be let go during the first round of roster cuts include wide receiver Chris Givens (Philadelphia Eagles), tight end Konrad Reuland (Indianapolis Colts), defensive tackle Ishmaa'ily Kitchen and defensive backs Asa Jackson (Arizona Cardinals), Tramain Jacobs (Oakland Raiders) and Nick Perry (Eagles).
A spot for Carter?: One guy not getting a lot of buzz is linebacker Chris Carter, but the 27-year-old is very much in the conversation for a 53-man spot. The six-year veteran is primarily an outside linebacker, which, as I documented above in regards to Kruger, is a position where the Ravens are pretty deep right now. However, Carter can play on the inside, too, and the Ravens could use some depth there. He's also a very good special teams player. The Ravens' struggles covering kicks this preseason could help Carter's cause.
A streak meant to be broken: The Ravens have kept at least one undrafted rookie free agent in every season under head coach John Harbaugh. However, that streak could be in jeopardy. With yesterday's cuts, the Ravens have seven undrafted free agents from this year remaining on their roster, and I wouldn't say any of them are favorites to be on the roster past Saturday's final cuts.
Samford defensive tackle Michael Pierce has had a nice preseason and might have the best chance to stick out of the group, but it's hard to see him making the team over rookie fourth-round pick Willie Henry or Carl Davis, a 2015 third rounder.
Colorado's Stephane Nembot could be a nice developmental offensive tackle, but he's behind Alex Lewis and De'Ondre Wesley and maybe even Blaine Clausell.
Pass rusher Victor Ochi started training camp as the most likely undrafted rookie to make the team. However, he hasn't played much in the preseason and the Ravens have so many outside linebackers ahead of him on the depth chart.
A market for Powers: This is complete speculation on my part, but you wonder if the Cardinals will put a call in to Newsome this week and asked about cornerback Jerraud Powers' availability. Arizona lost potential starting corner Mike Jenkins to a torn ACL on Saturday, leaving them vulnerable in the secondary. Powers spent the previous three seasons with the Cardinals, starting 40 games, before he signed with the Ravens in May.
Powers is projected to be the Ravens' starting nickel back, but he has struggled this preseason and he's currently sidelined with what is believed to be a relatively minor injury. Given the team's issues the past couple of years keeping cornerbacks healthy, it seems unlikely the Ravens would part with Powers. However, they do have several other candidates to play in the slot, including rookie Tavon Young, Will Davis, Anthony Levine Sr. and even safety Terrence Brooks.
It seems Pitta is safe: Coming into training camp, I thought one of the Ravens' toughest roster decisions was going to involve veteran tight end Dennis Pitta. But it sounds like there's no decision to be made at all. When expressing his frustration last week about the finger injury that has now kept Pitta sidelined for nearly a month, Harbaugh mentioned he wanted to see the tight end out there to work on his timing with Joe Flacco.
He made no mention of Pitta needing to show team officials something to secure a roster spot. And Monday, Harbaugh expressed confidence that Pitta will be able to return to practice next week and have enough time to be ready to play in the Sept. 11 regular-season opener against the Buffalo Bills.
I'm not surprised that Pitta will make the team. I thought, if he stayed healthy and had a productive preseason, that was pretty much a guarantee. But Pitta hasn't been on the field much in practice and he hasn't played in an NFL game since September 2014. The Ravens are putting a lot of faith in the tight end who may need to play a significant role upon his return.