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Breaking down the Ravens' roster heading into preseason finale vs. Saints, Saturday's cutdown

"It’s big-time [that] us younger guys will get a lot of reps," said WR Quincy Adeboyejo. "So, we just take these practices day by day – getting in the playbook and making sure we’re prepared to have a big game." (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)

The evaluation of players started as far back as mid-April with the offseason workout program, continued through May and June with rookie minicamp, organized team activities and mandatory minicamp, and resumed in late July with the beginning of training camp.

It's always a popular before the fourth and final preseason game to discuss all of the jobs that are on the line. The reality, though, is NFL teams already have a pretty good idea of how they'll fill most of their 53-man roster spots before Saturday's 4 p.m. roster deadline.

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However, just ask Ravens nose tackle Michael Pierce about the benefits of making a good final impression. Pierce, an undrafted free agent out of Samford, had a strong training camp last year and was certainly on the Ravens' radar when they traveled to New Orleans to play the Saints in their final preseason game of 2016. Pierce left little doubt that he belonged on the team in the game by strip-sacking quarterback Luke McCown and then recovering the fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.

The Ravens return to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for a preseason finale Thursday night with a host of players intent on making a final case for one of a handful of available roster spots.

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"There are some undetermined spots right now," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said earlier this week. "A lot of it is going to come down to this week and this game for some of those spots."

Here's a breakdown of where the Ravens stand at every position heading into the preseason finale:

QUARTERBACKS

How many they'll likely keep: 2

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Locks: Joe Flacco, Ryan Mallett

Long shots: Josh Woodrum, Thaddeus Lewis

Skinny: There might be a temptation to keep a third quarterback given Flacco's back problem, but that's not been the Ravens' way. Woodrum has been a nice story though he was never considered a serious threat for Mallett's backup job. Woodrum could end up on the practice squad.

RUNNING BACKS

How many they'll likely keep: 4

Locks if healthy: Terrance West, Danny Woodhead

On the bubble: Buck Allen, Taquan Mizzell, Ricky Ortiz (fullback)

Long shots: Bobby Rainey, Lorenzo Taliaferro (fullback)

Injured reserve: Kenneth Dixon (knee)

Skinny: Allen probably has played his way off the bubble and into the No. 3 running back spot if the Ravens don't add another ball carrier. Ortiz has moved ahead of Taliaferro in the fullback battle, but the Ravens could opt to use defensive lineman Patrick Ricard in that role and not keep a designated fullback. Mizzell has had a nice summer. He could force himself on roster with strong game versus the Saints, but at whose expense? It's tough to imagine the Ravens keeping five backs, so they might have to choose between Mizzell and Ortiz.

WIDE RECEIVERS

How many they'll likely keep: 5

Locks if healthy: Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin, Breshad Perriman

On the bubble: Chris Moore, Michael Campanaro, Chris Matthews, Quincy Adeboyejo

Long shots: Keenan Reynolds, Griff Whalen, C.J. Board

Injured reserve: Tim White (thumb)

Skinny: Because of injuries and inconsistency, this competition never really materialized. The Ravens could keep just five receivers but they'd have to be comfortable with Perriman's status. Campanaro is the team's top punt returner and if he gets through Thursday healthy, he's pretty much a lock. Moore, a fourth-round pick last year, was considered a lock a month ago, but he's struggled this preseason. It will likely come down to Moore, Matthews and Adeboyejo for one or two spots.

TIGHT ENDS

How many they'll likely keep: 4

Locks if healthy: Nick Boyle, Benjamin Watson, Maxx Williams

On the bubble: Larry Donnell, Vince Mayle

Long shot: Ryan Malleck

Reserve/suspended list: Darren Waller (one year)

Injured reserve: Crockett Gillmore (knee)

Skinny: Injuries and a suspension have thinned the Ravens here. Given that Watson and Williams are coming off surgeries, the Ravens might decide to keep a fourth tight end. Donnell would give the Ravens another red-zone threat. Keeping Mayle would be a nod to Jerry Rosburg's special teams units.

Joe Flacco's return from a back injury has Ravens fans justifiably worried about his readiness for the season opener in Cincinnati.

OFFENSIVE LINE

How many they'll likely keep: 8

Locks if healthy: Ronnie Stanley, James Hurst, Ryan Jensen, Marshal Yanda, Austin Howard, Jermaine Eluemunor

On the bubble: Jeremy Zuttah, Matt Skura, De'Ondre Wesley

Long shots: Jarrod Pughsley, Stephane Nembot, Jarell Broxton, Roubbens Joseph, Maurquice Shakir, Derrick Nelson

Injured reserve: Alex Lewis (shoulder), Nico Siragusa (knee)

Reserve/retired list: John Urschel

Skinny: The Ravens remain unsettled up front. Will Jensen or the recently signed Zuttah start at center? Is it Hurst, Jensen or Matt Skura at left guard? If Jensen and Hurst start and the Ravens keep eight linemen, Eluemunor, Zuttah and Skura are the most likely reserves. However, the Ravens might want to keep an extra tackle around, which bodes well for Wesley's chances. The Ravens are still trying to add another offensive lineman, so the story here is far from complete.

DEFENSIVE LINE

How many they'll likely keep: 7

Locks if healthy: Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce, Brent Urban, Bronson Kaufusi, Chris Wormley

On the bubble: Carl Davis, Willie Henry, Patrick Ricard

Skinny: Keeping eight defensive linemen might be excessive and cost the Ravens depth at another roster spot. However, the Ravens believe all eight are – or will be – quality NFL players. They've made it known to teams that they are willing to trade a defensive lineman for help at another position. If they can't swing a deal, Davis, Henry and Ricard are in the most jeopardy.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

How many they'll likely keep: 5

Locks if healthy: Terrell Suggs, Matthew Judon, Za'Darius Smith, Tyus Bowser, Tim Williams

Long shots: Randy Allen, Boseko Lokombo

Skinny: Smith was once thought to be a potential odd man out and trade candidate, but he's had a really nice preseason. His experience and versatility are valuable and needed. Lokombo, the former CFL player, has done some nice things. The Ravens are just too deep at his position.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

How many they'll likely keep: 4

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Locks if healthy: C.J. Mosley, Kamalei Correa, Patrick Onwuasor

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On the bubble: Bam Bradley, Donald Payne

Long shot: Brennen Beyer

Injured reserve: Albert McClellan

Skinny: Correa and Onwuasor are still battling for the starting weak-side linebacker job. McClellan's knee injury creates another opening. Bradley has been impressive and could become the latest undrafted inside linebacker to make the team. He needs to play well Thursday.

CORNERBACKS

How many they'll likely keep: 6

Locks if healthy: Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, Marlon Humphrey

On the bubble: Jaylen Hill, Robertson Daniel, Sheldon Price, Trevin Wade

Long shots: Brandon Boykin, Reggie Porter

Injured reserve: Tavon Young (knee), Maurice Canady (knee)

Skinny: The Ravens have some tough decisions to make here and given their recent struggles in keeping corners healthy, they might feel compelled to keep a few more around. Hill, an undrafted rookie out of Jacksonville State, has played his way into near-lock territory. Price and Daniel have the size and length that the Ravens look for in the position. Wade is an experienced option in the slot. If the Ravens use one of the injured reserve with designation to return spots on Canady, he'll have to make the initial 53-man roster.

SAFETIES

How many they'll likely keep: 5

Locks if healthy: Eric Weddle, Tony Jefferson, Lardarius Webb, Anthony Levine Sr.

On the bubble: Chuck Clark

Long shots: Otha Foster

Skinny: The Ravens' top four is set with the versatile Levine, who will have a role when the team goes to the dime package, rounding out the group. Clark, a rookie sixth-round pick, has played pretty well this summer and is in a good position to make the roster because of his special teams play.

SPECIALISTS

How many they'll likely keep: 3

Locks if healthy: Justin Tucker (kicker), Sam Koch (punter), Morgan Cox (long snapper)

Long shots: Kenny Allen (punter), Taybor Pepper (long snapper)

Skinny: There's no ambiguity with the kicking battery and there hasn't been for quite some time. Pepper was signed earlier this week because the Ravens don't want Cox to get injured Thursday night.

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