Projecting the Ravens' 53-man roster: With Justin Houston's return, here's where team stands entering training camp – Baltimore Sun

With the Ravens’ season opener just two months away, the aftershocks of an injury-filled 2021 are still rippling through the team.
Until there’s clarity on which rehabilitating Ravens will be cleared for training camp later this month, it’s hard to know just who might be ready for Week 1. Quick recoveries and good health this preseason would leave the Ravens’ 53-man roster without much room for surprises. Rehab setbacks and new injuries would shake things up again.
The Ravens’ one-year deal for outside linebacker Justin Houston effectively took one open spot, and more moves are on the way. The NFL’s first wave of cuts, due by Aug. 16, will trim rosters from 90 players to 85. The second, on Aug. 23, will get them down to 80. On Aug. 30, three days after the Ravens’ preseason finale, teams must finalize their initial 53-man roster. Here’s what the Ravens’ could look like:
Ravens coach John Harbaugh, right, and general manager Eric DeCosta talk during rookie minicamp in May. (Gail Burton/AP)
Quarterback (2): Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley
With Trace McSorley now in Arizona, there’s not much sense in the Ravens keeping three quarterbacks on their roster. Considering Jackson’s availability issues last year, that could be a bad thing. Considering the roster squeeze elsewhere, that could also be a good thing.
Running back (4): J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Tyler Badie, Justice Hill
Injury-related uncertainty at the top of the depth chart could tamp down the intrigue of a competition at the bottom. If Dobbins and Edwards, both recovering from season-ending ACL tears, are cleared for the start of the season, the Ravens would likely make space for only two more backs. Badie should be a lock for one spot, and if the sixth-round pick overtakes Mike Davis in camp, the special teams contributions of a healthy Hill could force Davis off the roster. But if Dobbins or Edwards’ rehab drags into September, the Ravens would have to make space for at least two and maybe three other ball carriers.
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Wide receiver (4): Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, James Proche II, Tylan Wallace
The top four here, however they sort themselves out, are settled — unless general manager Eric DeCosta decides to bring in a veteran receiver. Free agent T.Y. Hilton nearly signed with the Ravens last year, and Julio Jones, Will Fuller V and Emmanuel Sanders are all looking for homes, too. The team’s rookie class of undrafted receivers was mostly anonymous in mandatory minicamp, so unless there’s a camp sensation — Jaylon Moore? Binjimen Victor? Slade Bolden? — special teams ability could dictate whether another spot becomes available.
Tight end/fullback (5): Mark Andrews, Patrick Ricard, Nick Boyle, Charlie Kolar, Isaiah Likely
There’s not much of a roster bubble here. If everyone stays healthy — and all eyes will be on Boyle after an injury-marred 2020 and 2021 — the Ravens are expected to keep four tight ends and one fullback. But if a spot opens up, would DeCosta look to a wide receiver or Josh Oliver for passing-game help?
Offensive tackle (4): Ronnie Stanley, Morgan Moses, Ja’Wuan James, Daniel Faalele
Coach John Harbaugh said at minicamp that Stanley’s surgically repaired left ankle is “looking great,” good news for a Ravens offensive line that needs its star left tackle healthy. After last season’s injury struggles, though, how many tackles will Ravens officials need to feel safe this fall? James has his own injury history. Faalele is still playing his way into shape. And if the left guard or center situation gets hairy, the versatile Patrick Mekari might be needed inside.
Guard Ben Cleveland, left, guard-tackle Tyre Phillips, center, and tackle Ronnie Stanley run a drill during 2021 training camp at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills. There’s a few question marks at left guard, where Cleveland and Phillips have both seen playing time. (Kim Hairston/The Baltimore Sun )
Interior offensive line (6): Patrick Mekari, Tyler Linderbaum, Kevin Zeitler, Ben Cleveland, Tyre Phillips, Ben Powers
Linderbaum and Zeitler are penciled-in starters at center and right guard, respectively. At left guard, there’s a few question marks. The Ravens traded Jermaine Eluemunor near the end of a training camp battle there in 2019, and it’s not hard to imagine history repeating itself this summer. But who’d be up for grabs? Cleveland is a 2021 third-round pick, and the Ravens loath to part with recent selections. Phillips is a 2020 third-rounder who was promising enough to start last year’s season opener. And Powers started 12 games in 2021, more than Cleveland and Phillips’ combined total. It’s also worth keeping an eye on who’s taking snaps at center. If Mekari’s working exclusively as a guard and tackle, the Ravens could keep Trystan Colon around as Linderbaum’s backup.
Defensive line (6): Calais Campbell, Michael Pierce, Justin Madubuike, Broderick Washington, Brent Urban, Travis Jones
When the Ravens signed Urban in May, the writing was on the wall for Derek Wolfe. With Wolfe’s release last month as part of an injury settlement, the defensive line has a solid two-deep at all three spots. Pierce’s no-show at minicamp was worrisome, but Harbaugh indicated that he’s expected to return in good health for training camp. If the Ravens need additional help inside, they could keep Isaiah Mack or Aaron Crawford or sign another tackle.
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Outside linebacker (5): Tyus Bowser, Odafe Oweh, Justin Houston, Daelin Hayes, Vince Biegel
After tearing his Achilles tendon in March, second-round pick David Ojabo won’t be ready for a while. If he starts the season on the reserve/nonfootball injury list, he’d be inactive for at least the first six weeks of practice and miss at least the Ravens’ first eight games. Houston’s return should bolster the position’s depth, especially after the sudden death of Jaylon Ferguson, but injury concerns still abound. If Bowser (Achilles tendon) isn’t expected to be ready by Week 1, or if another contributor gets banged up in the preseason, the Ravens would have to do their homework on free agents like Jason Pierre-Paul and Carlos Dunlap II.
Inside linebacker (4): Patrick Queen, Josh Bynes, Malik Harrison, Kristian Welch
Despite their shortcomings in obvious passing situations, Queen and Bynes were solid run defenders in their first year as a starting duo. If there’s similar carryover into this season, the Ravens’ reliance on “box” safeties like Chuck Clark and first-round pick Kyle Hamilton should ease concerns about the group’s depth. Harrison and Welch are well positioned to hold onto their reserve spots, if only because of their sizable roles on the Ravens’ special teams units. Undrafted rookies Diego Fagot (Navy), Josh Ross and Zakoby McClain could challenge for a spot, though.
The Ravens’ cornerback group will enter the season looking nothing like last year’s did, especially if Marcus Peters, still rehabbing a torn ACL, is cleared to play. (Kim Hairston/The Baltimore Sun )
Cornerback (6): Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Brandon Stephens, Kyle Fuller, Jalyn Armour-Davis, Damarion “Pepe” Williams
This group will enter the season looking nothing like last year’s did, especially if Peters, still rehabbing a torn ACL, is cleared to play. Stephens will be needed more at cornerback, where he played most often in college, than at safety, where he played most often as a rookie. Fuller was a key free-agent acquisition. And fourth-round picks Armour-Davis and Williams have impressed throughout offseason workouts. Kevon Seymour, who played heavily on both defense and special teams late last season, is a solid reserve who’ll enter camp on the bubble.
Safety (4): Marcus Williams, Chuck Clark, Kyle Hamilton, Geno Stone
This should have one of camp’s fiercest roster battles. If the Ravens see Stephens as a part-time safety, would they really keep five full-timers at the position? If not, the fourth and final spot would likely come down to Stone, who took a step forward in his second year in Baltimore, and Jefferson, who’s turned around his career in his second stint in Baltimore. Stone’s special teams ability could be too much to overcome there. The biggest variable is Clark; if he’s traded before the season, Stone and Jefferson would have much better roster odds. So would Ar’Darius Washington, who needs to impress after missing offseason workouts to rehab a foot injury.
Specialists (3): Justin Tucker, Jordan Stout, Nick Moore
Moore stepped in for Morgan Cox last year, and the Ravens’ kicking battery hardly skipped a beat. Sam Koch won’t be any easier to replace, but with the retired punter now on staff as a special teams consultant, Stout will have one of the game’s best resources on speed dial.
Copyright © 2021, Baltimore Sun
Copyright © 2021, Baltimore Sun

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Christopher Jones
Christopher Jones
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