Biggest Takeaways From Ravens' Roster Cuts

Left: OLB Pernell McPhee; Right: WR Miles Boykin

The Ravens made 21 moves Tuesday to get down to 53 by 4 p.m., but the roster is in no way in concrete.

Here are the biggest takeaways from Baltimore's roster juggling:

Some vested veterans could return

Baltimore released five vested veterans: outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, defensive back Anthony Levine Sr., nose tackle Justin Ellis, tight end Eric Tomlinson and defensive end Chris Smith. It would not be surprising to see some return soon. Vested veterans do not have to pass through waivers, meaning they can sign with any team they want. Players such as McPhee and Levine, who have tremendous history and loyalty to the Ravens, could return once players currently on the 53-man roster are moved to injured reserve.

Any player placed on injured reserve after initial rosters are set is eligible to return to game action after three weeks. That means any of Baltimore's players dealing with injuries – Rashod Bateman, Miles Boykin, Jimmy Smith, Nick Boyle, Justice Hill – could go to IR to free up a roster spot and still return early in the season.

Deep secondary after young players stand out

Baltimore has not only one of the most talented secondaries in the league, but also one of the deepest. Cornerback Chris Westry and safeties Geno Stone and undrafted rookie Ar'Darius Washington all played well enough to win roster spots. Any one of them likely would have been claimed off waivers had they been released, so Baltimore found a way to protect them. The Ravens did release Nigel Warrior, who played well after spending last year on the practice squad and converting to cornerback this offseason.

Baltimore kept seven wide receivers

The Ravens' injuries at wide receiver has been one of the biggest storylines of training camp. Baltimore ended up keeping seven: Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, Sammy Watkins, Bateman, Devin Duvernay, James Proche II, Tylan Wallace and Boykin. It was thought at the start of camp that it was Proche vs. Boykin. Proche cemented his spot by being the most consistently good wide receiver in practices, then breaking out in the preseason finale. Boykin was the biggest question mark after the 2019 third-round pick missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury, but the Ravens found a way to keep him. It remains to be seen what happens when everybody is healthy, but Baltimore will cross that bridge later if needed.

Ravens opt for just two quarterbacks

The Ravens have kept three quarterbacks the past couple years behind Lamar Jackson. This season, Tyler Huntley won the backup job and Baltimore released Trace McSorley, who will now have to pass through waivers if he's going to make it on the practice squad. McSorley recently returned to the practice field after suffering a back injury before the team's first preseason game.

Nine offensive linemen make the team

The Ravens have a deep and versatile offensive line with a potential super sub waiting in the wings. Besides the known starters of Ronnie Stanley, Bradley Bozeman, Kevin Zeitler and Alejandro Villanueva, the Ravens have Ben Powers, Tyre Phillips, Ben Cleveland, Patrick Mekari and Trystan Colon. It remains to be seen whether Powers, Phillips or Cleveland will start at left guard. If Phillips isn't, he would be the top swing/reserve offensive tackle, although Mekari has also spent time there this offseason. Between Phillips and Mekari, the Ravens have backups at any spot on the line. Colon made the team as a top backup at center. Ja'Wuan James is eligible to return from the Reserve/Non-Football injury list after eight games (for Week 10 at Miami).

The start of a new undrafted rookie streak?

The Ravens' 16-year streak of at least one undrafted rookie making the initial 53-man roster was snapped last year. Now it's back on with Washington, who was regarded as one of the top undrafted rookies coming out of the draft. He stands at just 5-foot-8, 175 pounds, but Washington showed he can hang with a forced fumble in the preseason opener and versatility to also play slot cornerback, which is particularly valuable after Baltimore traded fifth-round pick Shaun Wade.

Tight end and running back rooms still need to shake out

On Monday, Harbaugh said he doesn’t anticipate Boyle being ready for Week 1, but he does think he'll be ready "early in the season." Baltimore could roll with Mark Andrews and Josh Oliver, who showcased his potential enough in practices and games to make the team as the much-debated third tight end. Coaches have said Oliver deserves more credit for his blocking too. The other option is bringing back Tomlinson.

At running back, Ty'Son Williams and Hill were both essentially locks as soon as J.K. Dobbins went down with his season-ending injury. Harbaugh said he would be surprised if there's a running back cut by another team that would better fit Baltimore than the guys already on the roster. Still, there's the question of whether Hill will be ready for Week 1.

Thin on defensive line, thick on linebackers

With Ellis and Smith released, the Ravens only have five defensive linemen on the current roster: Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams, Derek Wolfe, Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington. At linebacker, however, the Ravens have nine. Jaylon Ferguson turned it on and won a job after some questioned his spot following the addition of Justin Houston.

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