Dreaded cut-down day is now behind the Ravens.
General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh trimmed the roster to 53 players over the weekend, finalizing the squad they will take to Denver on Thursday for the Week 1 opener.
The cuts were not without some surprises, and here's a closer position-by-position look at the 53-man roster:
Quarterbacks – Two
Breakdown: For the third straight season, the Ravens kept just two quarterbacks on the active roster. As long as both Flacco and Taylor are healthy, do not expect that to change over the course of the season. The fact that they kept only two quarterbacks is a sign that there are not any lingering concerns for Taylor after a blow to the head he took on the third preseason game.
Running Backs – Two
Breakdown: The Ravens decided to just go with two running backs this season, unlike last year when they had four running backs on the roster at one point. Anthony Allen has been the No. 3 back for the last two seasons, but the Ravens cut him over the weekend. The third running back is mostly a special teams role, so the Ravens will look elsewhere on the roster to get those contributions.
Fullbacks – Two
Breakdown: Some teams do not even have one fullback, but the Ravens opted to keep two on the active roster. While both are listed as* *fullback, they have very different roles. Leach is the traditional lead blocker in the running game, while Juszczyk has been used more as a receiving threat. The Ravens have used Juzczyk in the slot during preseason games, and he could help offset the loss of injured tight end Dennis Pitta by working the middle of the field.
Wide Receivers – Six
Breakdown: The receiver spot was one of the big storylines at the start of training camp, and there were some surprises with the final group of players. Gone are Tandon Doss and David Reed, as rookies Marlon Brown and Aaron Mellette emerged and shot up the depth chart during the preseason. Smith is now the leader of the group and Jones enters the season as the other starter. Stokley will be a slot receiver to move the chains on third down, and Thompson could stretch the field with his speed once he returns from a sprained foot. The performance of Brown and Mellette in the preseason could get them more reps in the regular season, as the Ravens need additional targets to complement Smith.
Tight End – Three
Breakdown: The Ravens kept three tight ends, but this group is likely to change in the coming days. Pitta is likely headed to Injured Reserve this week because of a hip injury that will force him to miss most, if not all,* *of the season. The Ravens could use the designated to return distinction for Pitta, which would allow him to return later in the year. Once Pitta goes to IR, the Ravens could try to bring back Billy Bajema or Matt Furstenburg, who were both cut Saturday.
Offensive Line – Nine
Breakdown: The starting offensive line is set heading into the season, which should help Flacco and the offense. The one position up for grabs on the line was at center, and Gradkowski beat out Shipley for the job. The Ravens opted to keep their two rookie draft picks in Wagner and Jensen, who will both be in reserve roles. Wagner is the backup right and left tackle and Jensen is an interior lineman. The decision to keep Jensen on the active roster was somewhat surprising, as he did not play in the preseason because of a reported foot injury suffered in training camp. Many analysts speculated that Jensen would be headed to injured reserve, but the Ravens decided to carry him on the 53-man squad.
Defensive Line – Seven
Breakdown: The Ravens strengthened the middle of their defense this offseason, and now they have a deep group of talent to keep players fresh throughout the season. Much of the focus throughout training camp was on Cody, a former second-round pick who was coming back from hip surgery. Cody played well throughout the preseason to keep his spot on the roster. Tyson was also on the roster bubble, but the former seventh-round pick earned his spot with a solid training camp and preseason.
Inside Linebackers – Four
Breakdown: Smith is the leader of this group, as he won a starting job soon after being signed in free agency. Bynes is the starting weak side linebacker and Brown is also expected to see plenty of time in nickel packages. McClellan moved inside after playing outside linebacker the last two seasons, and he provides quality depth at the position. McClellan could also be an important contributor on special teams.
Outside linebackers – Five
Breakdown: This might be the most talented position group on the team, as it's headlined by two Pro Bowlers in Suggs and Dumervil. Upshaw will still get plenty of playing time, as the Ravens have used him to set the edge and defend the run. McPhee is a pass-rush specialists who made the move to outside linebacker this offseason, and Simon is a fourth-round pick who will likely be a special teamer in his rookie season.
Cornerbacks – Four
Breakdown: In a somewhat surprising move, the Ravens kept only four corners on the roster. They cut rookie seventh-round pick Marc Anthony this weekend. Webb and Graham are expected to be the starters, and Jimmy Smith will still get plenty of playing time in nickel packages. Head Coach John Harbaugh left open the possibility that the Ravens could add another corner, and recently-cut veteran Chris Johnson could be an option to come back to Baltimore.
Safety – Five
Breakdown: Trawick making the team was one of the surprises of cutdown weekend. The undrafted safety out of Troy earned his spot after a strong preseason where he made an impact on special teams. The Ravens opted to keep Trawick and Levine over Omar Brown, who finished last season on the active roster. Levine and Trawick are going to make their mark on special teams, while Huff, Elam and Ihedigbo will get most of the defensive snaps.
Specialists – Three
Morgan Cox Breakdown: No surprises with the specialists, as the Ravens did not even bring other kickers,* *punters or long snappers into training camp.