OWINGS MILLS, MD — The Baltimore Ravens continue their preseason in Indiana this weekend, partaking in two joint practices against the Colts before the two teams clash on Monday night from Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Ravens still have three preseason games on their agenda before the team condenses its roster to 53-players by the Sept. 1 deadline. There’s plenty of time remaining for position battles to sort out, but after four weeks of practice, certain players have generated buzz, while others have not.
There will be a 53-man roster preview post coming soon on Charm City Bird Watch, but here are five bubble players who could miss out on making the team.
1. Kenneth Dixon
Ever since the Ravens took Kenneth Dixon in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the third-year running back repeatedly missed time either due to injury or suspension. He’s only played in 12 games to-date and hasn’t flashed enough to warrant the Ravens starting him.
Dixon did not appear in the Ravens’ first two preseason games. He ‘tweaked’ his hamstring during practice on July 26, missed the Hall of Fame game on Aug. 2, returned to practice on Aug. 5, then missed last Thursday’s game against the Rams. The decision to sit out, likely precautionary, gave undrafted free agent running backs Gus Edwards and Mark Thompson more carries. Both of them, notably Edwards, took advantage of the opportunity.
Edwards has posted 93 rushing yards over the first two preseason games. He also hauled in a 23-yard reception against the Bears. Even though Edwards is an undrafted rookie, he’s already made a stronger case than Dixon for making the 53-man roster as the Ravens’ third running back.
If healthy, Dixon will get his fair share of carries over the next three preseason games. If he does not perform better than Edwards, he will likely have to find a new gig elsewhere.
2. Kamalei Correa
The highest draft pick on this list, the Ravens took Kamalei Correa in the second round of the 2016 Draft, 42nd overall. In his first two NFL seasons, Correa has changed positions two times, failing to grasp the speed of professional football.
This summer, fter moving back to outside linebacker, his natural position, Correa started camp off strong and tore it up in the Hall of Fame game, posting three sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble. Fast-forward to the following week against the Rams, and Correa was quiet, finishing with just one solo tackle.
Correa needs multiple performances like his showing in Canton over the final three preseason games. The Ravens are loaded at outside linebacker. Terrell Suggs leads the way. Young rushers Matt Judon and Tim Williams both racked up sacks in last week’s win over the Rams. Za’Darius Smith is in a contract season. Tyus Bowser, also a second-round pick (2017), had a hot start to camp before suffering a groin injury.
Correa will receive a heavy workload throughout the rest of preseason action. If he cannot separate himself from the boatload of young pass rushers on the Ravens’ roster, Baltimore will likely move on.
3. Anthony Levine Sr.
Having been with the team since 2012, Anthony Levine Sr. is now one of the longest-tenured Ravens on the roster. Although he’s spent the bulk of his career as a backup, he’s played multiple defensive positions and proven reliable on special teams. At 31 years old, he’s a seasoned veteran who can mentor young players, something that should not be taken lightly.
With all of that said, this year’s road to the 53-man roster looks uncertain for Levine. Along with head coach John Harbaugh announcing earlier this summer that Levine underwent a foot procedure in the offseason, the Ravens continued to load up with young talent in the secondary. Baltimore drafted cornerback Anthony Avarett and DeShon Elliott. Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young both returned from severe injuries. Marlon Humphrey, Maurice Canady, and Chuck Clark highlight the group of young defensive backs who will see increased snaps this season, both on defense and special teams.
The Ravens have also used Levine as a linebacker, but new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has cut back on letting guys play multiple positions. It’s not a matter of talent with Levine, but the Ravens are so deep in the secondary that there might not be any room left for him. An injury could open up the door for Levine, but as of now his status for the 53-man roster lingers in question.
4. Jaleel Scott
It’s rare for the Ravens to not keep a drafted rookie on the 53-man roster, but that might be the case this season with multiple rookies, including Jaleel Scott.
Like at corner with Levine, the Ravens have too many receivers to keep. Michael Crabtree, John Brown, Willie Snead, and Chris Moore are locks to make the roster. Tim White is the favorite to win the returner job and subsequently a spot at receiver. That’s five spots, with the sixth and likely last spot going to either Scott, fellow drafted rookie Jordan Lasley, or Breshad Perriman.
Out of those three, Perriman stood out over the first two preseason games. Perriman caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Robert Griffin III in last week’s win over the Rams. Both Scott and Lasley have one reception each over the first two games. Lasley’s was 14 yards in the Bears game, and Scott’s was a 9-yard catch against the Rams.
Judging from Tweets from reporters who’ve gotten a good look at both Lasley and Scott, Lasley has flashed more in camp. That fact alone hurts Scott’s chances of making the roster, simply due to the overhaul of the Ravens’ receiver position. With Scott being a rookie, the Ravens could ‘redshirt’ him and stash him on injured reserve this season, giving him more time to develop.
5. Nico Siragusa
Nico Siragusa missed all of his rookie season with a torn ACL, MCL, and PCL. It was really unfortunate, because he could have gotten plenty of playing time after Marshal Yanda and Alex Lewis suffered season-ending injuries and John Urschel retired. Guys like Matt Skura and Ryan Jensen got plenty of experience while Siragusa spent his season rehabbing the knee.
Like with the secondary and receiver positions, offensive line is crowded too. If the Ravens avoid the injury bug up-front, the starting five should be Ronnie Stanley, Lewis, James Hurst/Skura, Yanda, and Orlando Brown. That leaves Hurst/Skura and Bradley Bozeman as the primary backups. That last spot likely comes down to Jermaine Eluemunor, rookie Greg Senat, and Siragusa. Eluemunor did not impress in limited action last season, but he has a leg up on Siragusa in terms of experience, and he’s stayed healthy to-date. Senat is a project after only playing two seasons of college football at Wagner.
There have not been many reports on Siragusa’s camp performance to-date, but he’s still getting up-to-speed with his knee and the offensive playbook. He’ll need to stand out in the final three preseason games to make the Ravens feel confident about keeping him on the roster.
- Maxx Williams – It will be hard for the Ravens to keep four tight ends, and Williams has not been able to stay healthy over his three-year career, both before and after his severe knee procedure
- Bronson Kaufusi – A former third-round pick who missed his rookie season and then failed to make an impact in 2017. The coaching staff is reportedly trying him out at outside linebacker, which isn’t promising to hear considering how crowded that competition already is.
- Chris Wormley – A 2017 third-round pick who was also extremely quiet in his rookie season, finishing with five tackles in just seven games. He has one tackle so far in the first two preseason games.
- Zach Sieler – The last draft pick of Ozzie Newsome’s tenure as the Ravens’ general manager, Sieler already has one sack under his belt this preseason, but will have an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster. Harbaugh recently said that Sieler is “starting to flash,” but will need an impressive three-game stretch to stay on the team.
- Albert McClellan – McClellan went undrafted in 2010, came to the Ravens and has been with the team ever since. He’s a special teams mastermind and can fill in at inside linebacker in a pinch. But, after tearing his ACL last preseason, along with the Ravens trying out the young guys on special teams, is there still a place for McClellan on this roster?
- Darren Waller – I wrote about Waller’s return to the field following a year-long suspension and how it will force the Ravens into another difficult roster decision. It’s already unclear if the Ravens will keep four tight ends, but in Waller’s case, can the Ravens even trust him at this point?
- Breshad Perriman – Hats off to Perriman for raising his stock back up last week against the Rams. It’s hard to see Perriman making this team, regardless if he posts some more solid performances overt the final three games. If he plays well, the Ravens can trade him and get something valuable back. If Perriman struggles, the decision is easy.
- Jermaine Eluemunor – He may have a lead on Siragusa because he played last season, but the sample size so far has not been too impressive.