As the Ravens prepare to close out the preseason, here’s a 53-man roster projection:
Quarterbacks (2): Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub (practice squad: Bryn Renner). Comment: No position is more clear cut on the team. The Ravens will keep only two quarterbacks for a sixth straight season and Renner has earned a spot on the practice squad as a developmental third quarterback.
Running backs (3): Justin Forsett, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Buck Allen (practice squad: Terrence Magee, Fitzgerald Toussaint). Comment: Taliaferro's sprained knee could keep him sidelined for the first couple of weeks, which will force the Ravens to keep a fourth running back. But the Ravens have to carry Brent Urban on the 53-man roster for a day before putting him on the injured reserve-designated for return list. The feeling here is the Ravens will gamble at running back because they have Magee and Toussaint. Baltimore will likely want to put Magee back on the roster after giving Urban that designation. If another team picks up Magee after he's waived, the Ravens can go with Toussaint.
Wide receivers (6): Steve Smith Sr., Breshad Perriman, Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown, Michael Campanaro, Darren Waller (practice squad: Jeremy Butler; cut: Tom Nelson, Daniel Brown). Comment: Butler makes the team if the Ravens want to carry seven receivers because of Perriman's injury. But there are better special-teams players than Butler, which is why I'm sticking with six receivers.
Tight ends (3): Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle (PUP: Dennis Pitta; practice squad: Konrad Reuland. Comment: The Ravens are extremely young at tight end and they won't get back Pitta until Week 7 at the earliest after Baltimore moved Pitta to reserve-physically unable to perform list. Gillmore has shown promise as a starting tight end this summer.
Offensive tackles (3): Eugene Monroe, Rick Wagner, James Hurst (Cut: Jah Reid, Blaine Clausell). Comment: Reid started strong, but he has looked like his old self the last two weeks. Hurst is the top backup at tackle, and Marshal Yanda or Kelechi Osemele can shift to tackle in a pinch.
Guards (4): Marshal Yanda, Kelechi Osemele, John Urschel, Robert Myers (Cut: Kaleb Johnson). Comment: The Ravens won't want to risk losing Myers by trying to get him on the practice squad, so Baltimore keeps the rookie fifth-round pick.
Centers (1): Jeremy Zuttah (practice squad: Ryan Jensen; cut: Nick Easton). Comment: Jensen is dealing with a head injury and the Ravens will keep him if he doesn't recover from that over the next couple of days. But he spent last season on the practice squad, so Baltimore knows he can pass waivers. The Ravens can always promote Jensen if there are any injury concerns with Monroe, Osemele or Hurst.
Defensive tackles (3): Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, Carl Davis (Cut: Micajah Reynolds). Comment: Jernigan's questionable status because of a knee injury will probably make the Ravens hold onto another backup defensive lineman.
Defensive ends (5): Chris Canty, Lawrence Guy, DeAngelo Tyson, Christo Bilukidi, Brent Urban (IR-designated for return). (Cut: Kapron Lewis-Moore). Comment: Urban would have to remain on the 53-man roster for one day before being put on short-term IR. Bilukidi gets one of the last roster spots because of Jernigan's knee injury.
Outside linebackers (4): Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, Za'Darius Smith (practice squad: Brennen Beyer; cut: Zach Thompson). Comment: The only change from last season is Smith replacing Pernell McPhee as a situational pass-rusher.
Inside linebackers (5): C.J. Mosley, Daryl Smith, Albert McClellan, Zach Orr, Arthur Brown (cut: Andrew Bose). Comment: It sounded like Brown is going to survive the cut down after listening to coach John Harbaugh. The Ravens don't give up on second-round picks very quickly.
Cornerbacks (5): Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb, Kyle Arrington, Tray Walker, Rashaan Melvin (practice squad: Quinton Pointer; cut: Asa Jackson, Cassius Vaughn). Comment: The Ravens are going to need plenty of healthy cornerbacks when they face Peyton Manning and the Broncos' passing attack in the season opener. If there is a question about Melvin's availability, Baltimore will have to keep either Jackson or Pointer.
Safeties (5): Kendrick Lewis, Will Hill, Anthony Levine, Brynden Trawick, Terrence Brooks. (practice squad: Nick Perry). Comment: It's a remarkable story about how fast Brooks recovered from a severe knee injury eight months ago. Levine and Trawick are valuable special-teams players.
Specialists (3): Justin Tucker (K), Sam Koch (P), Morgan Cox (LS). Comment: Asa Jackson can break long returns, but it's a risk to make him the primary returner because he doesn't have a great feel for being a punt returner (his failure to fair catch a punt led to a turnover Saturday). It's time to see what Campanaro can do as a returner if he stays healthy. The Ravens also have Webb and Steve Smith as their "aces in the hole" at returner.