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Ravens finalize 53-man roster, cutting Taquan Mizzell, Chris Matthews, Matt Skura and 10 others

Ravens finalize 53-man roster, cutting Taquan Mizzell, Chris Matthews, Matt Skura and 10 others
The Ravens waived running back Taquan Mizzell Saturday despite leading the team in rushing during the preseason. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

The Ravens opted to keep just three running backs and no fullback. They are carrying just two quarterbacks to start a season for the eighth consecutive year. They extended their streak of at least one undrafted free agent making the season-opening roster to 14 years by retaining three of them. And they dealt with their defensive logjam along the defensive line by not addressing the position at all.

Otherwise, there were no significant surprises when the Ravens cut their roster down to the league-mandated 53 players by Saturday at 4 p.m.

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The team waived 14 players, including quarterback Josh Woodrum, promising undrafted rookie running back Taquan Mizzell and wide receivers Chris Matthews and Quincy Adeboyejo. They also placed veteran cornerback Brandon Boykin on injured reserve.

They're also hardly done with the roster maneuvering ahead of their Sept.10 regular-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. The first waiver period ends at noon Sunday, and the Ravens, who are believed to be looking at potential upgrades at running back and along the offensive line, could be active with claims.

At noon Sunday, the Ravens can also start assembling their 10-man practice squad. That will be comprised by many of the players who were let go Saturday. After 4 p.m. Sunday, the Ravens can also place cornerback Maurice Canady on injured reserve. That will open up a spot on the 53-man roster and also allow Canady, who had knee surgery early in training camp, to return at some point during the season.

"You just never know how it's going to go [and] then who gets released and if we decide to claim somebody as well," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said following Saturday practice which featured quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Danny Woodhead and wide receiver Breshad Perriman all returning to the field.

Earlier Saturday, the Ravens acquired center Luke Bowanko for an undisclosed draft pick, leaving their roster at 68 and meaning that the team had to make 15 total moves. In addition to Woodrum, Mizzell, Matthews and Adeboyejo, they waived fullback Ricky Ortiz, tight end Ryan Malleck, offensive linemen Matt Skura and Maurquice Shakir, outside linebacker Boseko Lokombo, inside linebacker Donald Payne and cornerback Reggie Porter.

The Ravens also waived-injured offensive tackle Stephane Nembot, inside linebacker Brennen Beyer and cornerback Robertson Daniel while placing Boykin on injured reserve. Nembot, Beyer and Daniel will revert to injured reserve if they clear waivers and likely be let go with injury settlements.

Mizzell, an undrafted rookie out of Virginia, led the team in rushing yards and receptions in the preseason, but he stood out mostly as a pass catcher out of the backfield and that's going to be Woodhead's role. They'll try to re-sign Mizzell to the practice squad although he should garner interest elsewhere.

Skura started all four preseason games and he appeared to be a near lock to be the team's top reserve interior offensive lineman. However, he was pushed off the roster when the Ravens acquired two veteran interior offensive linemen - Bowanko and Tony Bergstrom – in the past two days.

The Ravens cutting Ortiz, along with their decision a day earlier to move on from Lorenzo Taliaferro, means that they don't have a natural fullback on their 53-man roster. Unless they pick one up over the next week, they'll use defensive lineman Patrick Ricard or tight end Nick Boyle in a lead-blocking role.

Matthews and Adeboyejo were beaten out for the fourth and fifth wide receiver spots by Michael Campanaro (River Hill) and Chris Moore. Campanaro and Moore figure to serve as the team's top punt and kick returners, respectively. Vince Mayle made the team as the fourth tight end because of his special teams ability.

Ricard, inside linebacker Bam Bradley and cornerback Jaylen Hill earned their roster berths as undrafted free agents. Hill, who had two preseason interceptions, wasn't even part of the team's initial rookie free agent class as he originally was invited to tryout at the Ravens' rookie minicamp.

Ricard, meanwhile, made the team at arguably the Ravens' deepest position. Harbaugh had said all along that team officials believed they had eight NFL defensive linemen on their roster and it was going to be tough to keep them all. The Ravens did, at least for now.

"The last two days have been pretty hectic that way," Harbaugh said when asked about having to cut the roster from 90 to 53 in less than 48 hours. "Guys have been great. We have relationships. Those conversations are not fun. They are difficult, but they are honest. We have gone a long way with a lot of these guys. You have a real honest conversation about where they are going and that sort of thing. It has been really good that way as well."

Below is a look at their 15 moves to get their roster down to 53.

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WAIVED

QB Josh Woodrum: Woodrum, who had a standout college career at Liberty, captured the attention of Ravens' fans with his impressive play during the first two preseason games. He struggled, however, when he was given a chance to play with the starters in the third preseason against Buffalo. His release means that the much-maligned Ryan Mallett will be the backup quarterback although that was never really in doubt. Woodrum could wind up on the practice squad.

RB Taquan Mizzell: The undrafted free agent out of Virginia led the team this preseason with 126 rushing yards on 40 carries and 90 receiving yards on 12 carries. However, he came up short of a roster spot as the Ravens opted to keep just three ball carriers: Terrance West, Danny Woodhead and Buck Allen.

FB Ricky Ortiz: Releasing the former Oregon State player means that the Ravens will go without a designated fullback. They'll likely use defensive lineman Patrick Ricard in that spot. Ortiz had three carries for eight yards and four receptions for 21 yards in the preseason.

WR Chris Matthews: Matthews was beaten out for a final receiver spot by Chris Moore after an uneven performance in the preseason. He caught four passes for 81 yards. The former Seattte Seahawk, who starred in Super Bowl XLIX, played in four games for the Ravens in 2015 and spent last year on injured reserve.

WR Quincy Adeboyejo: The undrafted rookie out of Mississippi was one of the stories early in camp as he repeatedly made plays in practice, beating several of the Ravens' top cornerbacks in the process. A knee injury, however, slowed his progress and he did very little in four preseason games, catching just three balls for 31 yards.

TE Ryan Malleck: The tight end signed with the Ravens in June after stints with the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers. He had one catch for 10 yards in the preseason.

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OT Maurquice Shakir: The 6-foot-4 and 313-pound offensive tackle was trying to make the team as an undrafted free agent out of Middle Tennessee State. He is a candidate for the practice squad.

G Matt Skura: He started all four preseason games, but the acquisition of Luke Bowanko and Tony Bergstrom likely pushed him out. An undrafted free agent, he spent last season on the practice squad.

OLB Boseko Lokombo: He signed with the Ravens in January after playing three seasons in the Canadian Football League. He flashed at times this summer and is a candidate for the practice squad, but the Ravens didn't have an outside linebacker spot available.

ILB Donald Payne: A tackling machine at Stetson, Payne signed as an undrafted free agent and did some nice things in the preseason, finishing with 15 tackles despite missing one game with a hamstring injury. He's a prime candidate for the practice squad.

CB Reggie Porter: The undrafted free agent out of Utah did some nice things this summer although he had a rough outing in the preseason finale against the New Orleans Saints. He could wind up on the Ravens' practice squad.

WAIVED INJURED

OT Stephane Nembot: At 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, Nembot certainly looks the part. He just has struggled to stay healthy. He spent last season on injured reserve and he spent much of training camp on the sideline with a knee injury.

ILB Brennen Beyer: A versatile linebacker, Beyer had been in the organization the past two years, playing in just one game. The team's influx of young linebackers pushed him down the depth chart. He hurt his ankle in the team's preseason finale.

CB Sheldon Price: At 6-foot-2 and 198 pounds, Price looks the part of the prototypical "long" corners who are the rage in the NFL. He just struggled to stay healthy, dealing with a shoulder injury early in camp and then sustaining a concussion in the preseason finale. Price played in four games with the Ravens last season and started one.

CB Robertson Daniel: The former BYU player was in the mix for one of the final cornerback spots, but he was slowed this summer by injuries. Daniel was in the organization last year, spending most of the season on the practice squad.

INJURED RESERVE

CB Brandon Boykin: It wasn't that long ago where Boykin graded out as one of the top slot cornerbacks in the NFL. He's been unable to overcome injuries and that pattern continued this summer as he wasn't able to stay on the field because of an undisclosed issue. Boykin hasn't played an NFL game since the 2015 season.

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