Baltimore Ravens

Ravens make first round of cuts as their roster must continue to shrink

In his room at the Wingate hotel near the Green Bay Packers' training facility, Anthony Levine was determined not to answer the phone. His cell phone buzzed and when Levine noticed the local 920 area code, he declined the call. The hotel phone in his room then rang, but instead of answering it, Levine excused himself and went to the bathroom.

His roommate answered and relayed the news that Levine was trying to avoid. The Packers wanted to meet with him. In Packers' training camp as an undrafted free agent defensive back in 2010, Levine doesn't have fond memories of his first time being cut. Or his second time.


Levine failed to make the Packers' regular-season opening roster in each of his first two seasons, landing on the practice squad each time before finding a home with the Ravens late in 2012.

He's now pretty safe on days such as this, especially considering he has made huge plays this preseason. But Levine still feels for the guys who are roster casualties.


"It's very tough," Levine said. "I saw some guys this morning. It was sad. I was telling C.J. [Mosley] and Zach [Orr] during warm-ups. I was like, 'It was tough seeing those guys walk out today.' But it's a business. You know what it is."

NFL teams are required to cut their roster from 90 to 75 by 4 p.m. Tuesday, leaving more than 400 players league-wide looking for work. The rosters will then have to be trimmed from 75 to the requisite 53 by 4 p.m. Saturday, two days after every team plays its preseason finale.

The Ravens got into the act Monday by cutting their roster from 90 to 79. None of their moves were considered surprises.

They placed tight end Benjamin Watson (Achilles) and cornerback Kyle Arrington (concussion) on injured reserve and parted ways with nine players. Veteran inside linebacker Kavell Conner's contract was terminated. The Ravens also waived quarterback Jerrod Johnson, wide receivers Chuck Jacobs, Darius White and Dobson Collins, offensive linemen Jarell Broxton and Anthony Fabiano, outside linebacker Mario Ojemudia and defensive tackle Trevon Coley.

The Ravens have four more moves to make before Tuesday's deadline, and complicating matters is that Ravens coach John Harbaugh wants as many healthy bodies as possible heading into Thursday night's preseason finale against the New Orleans Saints. Harbaugh traditionally doesn't play his starters, and even some key backups, in the fourth and final preseason game, and this year will be no different.

"You have to factor in what you think a guy is going to be and what a guy has done," Harbaugh said. "That's not a perfect science – and certainly, how much we're going to play guys. We need to get through this game. We need to have more guys out there that can play in the game. We also want to keep guys as healthy as we can. That's the balancing act."

Rookie defensive end Bronson Kaufusi, who broke his ankle early in camp, and safety Matt Elam, who had arthroscopic knee injury and is expected to be sidelined for a while, can be placed on injured reserve. The Ravens also could move running back Lorenzo Taliaferro, who hasn't practiced all training camp as he continues his recovery from foot surgery, to the regular-season physically unable to perform list.

Making those moves Tuesday would allow the Ravens to keep a few extra healthy players for the Saints game. However, Harbaugh understands the difficulty of the decisions his staff will have to make after the game.


"We build relationships here," he said. "We told the team, 'One thing that's important in our organization … is anybody who comes here and is a part of us as a player, coach and employee, should feel like they're a part of the Ravens family.' That's how we do it. That starts with our owner, Steve Bisciotti. That's what we all believe in, and so, when a relationship changes for a player who is not going to be here at the end of the day, that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt a little bit for everybody. It just makes you grateful for the chance to keep going."

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Watson, the veteran tight end who signed a two-year deal with the team this offseason, tore his right Achilles tendon in Saturday's 30-9 victory over the Detroit Lions. Watson hasn't missed more than four games in any season since his rookie year in 2004. Now, he'll be out the entire year and faces a long rehabilitation process.

Arrington was put on IR as he continues to struggle with a concussion sustained in the preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers. Harbaugh said he isn't sure whether the 30-year-old cornerback will continue to play when he gets healthy.

"I don't know the details of the concussion protocols or what the tests were or anything like that, but Kyle has had a tremendous career," Harbaugh said. "What he decides to do going forward, I think, will be based on if he wants to move forward or just move on to the rest of the life with his family. Those are decisions the guys make, and Kyle will make the right decision. I have so much respect for him as a player and as a person. He's a family man. He's one of the best people you get a chance to meet in this league. We'll see where that goes. I think that's a decision that is part player decision, too, along with the doctors. I don't know how they came to it. I wasn't involved in that, but I can understand it."

Levine, too, understands how difficult this week will be for some of his teammates. He said he spoke to a couple of players who were let go Monday and he told them to "keep working, keep God first and everything will be all right." It's certainly worked out for Levine, who has been one of the Ravens' core special teams players for the past three seasons and could see an expanded role on defense this year.

"The second year when I got [cut], that was even tougher because I just had my son," Levine said. "I was like, 'Man, what am I going to do now? I have a family.' Then, the Ravens gave me a call, and I've been at home ever since."