Decision day: What the Ravens still have to do to finalize their 53-man roster

Team's toughest decisions are at running back, defensive line and cornerback.

Things rarely go according to form on the final roster cut-down day. There is almost always a surprise or two, like last year, when presumed Ravens starting running back Justin Forsett was released, only to be re-signed a couple of days later.

A trade or two will be made, or an injury to a player who was thought to be a sure thing will be revealed.


The Ravens have 14 moves to make by 4 p.m. Saturday to get down to the NFL-mandated 53-man roster.

A good portion of cuts aren't that hard to forecast. Whether they are waived outright or with an injury designation, quarterback Josh Woodrum, wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo, tight end Ryan Malleck, offensive linemen Stephane Nembot and Maurquice Shakir, linebackers Brennen Beyer, Boseko Lokombo and Donald Payne, and defensive backs Reggie Porter, Brandon Boykin and Robertson Daniel are seemingly long shots to make the team.

Could one or two wind up on the 53-man roster? Sure. But the majority of the 14 needed moves will come from that group.

Even if all 11 of those players are let go, the Ravens will still need to make a few other moves to get down to 53. Where else could those cuts come from?

Mike Preston writes that the Ravens miss Joe Flacco's leadership.

Running back: It's possible the Ravens keep five backs, but that seems like a stretch. Going with a fullback (Ricky Ortiz) or a fourth tailback (Taquan Mizzell) seems more likely — it would be tough to keep both. If Ortiz goes, the Ravens could use a tight end or defensive lineman Patrick Ricard as their lead blocker. Mizzell looked good as a receiver but didn't distinguish himself as a ball carrier this preseason. Do the Ravens really need another pass-catching back if Danny Woodhead is close to a return and Buck Allen is still on the roster?

Wide receiver: There are seven currently on the roster. Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin and Breshad Perriman are set, and Michael Campanaro (River Hill) probably should be a lock at this point, given his role as the team's top punt returner. That leaves Adeboyejo, Chris Moore and Chris Matthews competing for one or two spots. It would be hard to justify keeping six receivers given their limited production — albeit with shaky quarterback play — this preseason.

Tight end: Assuming Malleck will be let go, this simply comes down to whether the Ravens feel they need to carry Vince Mayle as a fourth tight end. If they do, it will come down to special teams value, not what Mayle can deliver as a fourth tight end.

Defensive end: This is the most pressing question for the Ravens during their final cuts: How do they alleviate their logjam at defensive end? Sure, all eight are worthy of being on the roster, but keeping them all would hamper the team's roster construction. The Ravens will probably dress six defensive linemen, at most, on game days, so why keep eight? The best result for the Ravens would be trading away their surplus to bolster a weaker position elsewhere. If they can't work a deal out, Ricard, Willie Henry and Carl Davis are probably in the most jeopardy.

Cornerback: The issue here is that so many cornerbacks are dealing with injuries. That's why the team had only four cornerbacks playing for almost the entire preseason finale Thursday night. The top four cornerbacks should be locked in with Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, Marlon Humphrey and undrafted free agent Jaylen Hill. With safeties Lardarius Webb and Anthony Levine Sr. expected to be used in the slot, it's probably not certain that the Ravens keep five corners. If they do, Sheldon Price is the logical pick, but he's dealing with a concussion. Daniel, Boykin and Maurice Canady are also hurt.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun