The Baltimore Ravens‘ front office and coaching staff have proven in the offseason that they are not afraid to make tough decisions to rebuild a competitive roster for a future Super Bowl berth. On Sunday, they followed that same path by releasing newly acquired veteran tight end, Visanthe Shiancoe in a 12 player roster cut in attempt to meet the NFL’s 75 player limit deadline on today. As of late afternoon the Ravens had two extra players on the roster and decided to move Jameel McClain to the PUP list and Kapron Lewis-Moore to the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list.
Today’s moves place both McClain and Lewis-Moore in a position to return to practice after the 1st six weeks of regular season for at least three weeks as active players unless the Ravens decide to end their season. This is an expected move for Lewis-Moore since he is still recovering from a torn ACL injury experienced while playing for Notre Dame in the January National Championship game.
Nonetheless, these moves are also indicative of a Ravens roster with both rookie and veteran talent ready to work hard and dominate the plays to compete for the non-guaranteed spots. Although Shiancoe caught five passes for 48 yards in the three preseason games and was expected to be the replacement for Dennis Pitta after he dislocated his right hip, he especially found no guarantee in his $940,000 contract on Sunday. And just like that, the Ravens signed veteran tight end Dallas Clark and Ed Dickson returned to practice from a partially torn right hamstring. But they now have newfound competition in former Maryland tight end undrafted rookie Matt Furstenburg and the impressive blocking of tight end Billy Bajema.
If following roster elimination history, the Ravens normally keep three running backs and two full backs. Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce have two of those roster positions on lock as they are poised to be the one-two punch in the depth chart. Vonta Leach, who has proven in the preseason why they resigned him, and struggling rookie Kyle Juszczyk will most likely remain on the active roster. With the release of Damien Berry, that leaves Anthony Allen, Bobby Rainey, and former Indianapolis Colt Delone Carter fighting for one spot.
There is no questioning Carter’s experience demonstrated by his 499 yards and five touchdowns in 133 carries in his career. Rainey and Allen, however, find themselves in familiar territory as they were swapped on the active roster before the first regular season game last year. Allen remained active on special teams throughout the season while Rainey went out on injured reserve after spending three weeks on the practice squad.
The prior two seasons the Ravens kept six wideouts on the active roster. Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Brandon Stokley are undeniably sure shots but this leaves three spots open with five wide receivers competing for them after the release of Rashaad Carter, Gerrard Sheppard, and Tommy Streeter.
While Tandon Doss has not had many looks during preseason, he is practicing well this week after having two receptions for 10 yards and a touchdown in the three preseason games aside from his interception in last Thursday’s game against the Carolina Panthers. Deonte Thompson has not played since the first preseason game after a foot injury has indefinitely sidelined him. LaQuan Williams made two catches for 32 yards and a touchdown in the preseason game against Tampa Bay. But this may have him poised in competition with fan favorite rookies Aaron Mellette and Marlon Brown. Mellette impressed coaches and fans alike with two touchdowns on his first two NFL receptions and Brown carried four passes for 59 yeards against the Panthers.
The quest to the final active roster does not have a dull moment because the Ravens rookies and newly signed veterans are proving way too sharp to make the elimination easy on the offense. Maybe it will be the defense that has more leeway in terms of talent. Only time will tell on Thursday in the final preseason game against the St. Louis Rams.