Two Compelling Cases Made in Final Preseason Exhibition
The Ravens wrapped up their preseason in Tampa Bay against the Buccaneers in a close 26-20 loss. However, the score wasn't as important as the players vying for roster spots, with two players listed as making a compelling case by numerous outlets.
The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker: "Johnson completed 10 of 12 passes, two for touchdowns, Monday night against the Washington Commanders. He came out even hotter Saturday, completing all four of his attempts to four different receivers on the Ravens' opening touchdown drive. He carved up Tampa Bay's first-string defense like he was playing catch in the park. … [Head Coach John] Harbaugh pulled him midway through the second quarter, suggesting Johnson had done enough to make his case."
Baltimore Beatdown’s Joshua Reed: "The poise and command of the offense that he has shown throughout the preseason might have been enough for the Ravens to consider carrying three quarterbacks on the active roster or perhaps even pick him over Huntley. If they opt to just release him, the odds of the 37-year-old remaining in Baltimore on the practice squad are likely slim because he proved that he is more than capable of being a primary backup in the league."
Pressbox’s Bo Smolka: "Huntley is still expected to be the team's No. 2 quarterback, but would Johnson's play the past two weeks convince the Ravens to keep three quarterbacks on the initial 53-man roster? Would it possibly lead them to keep Johnson over Huntley, which would save about $1.5 million in cap space? That still seems unlikely."
Russell Street Report’s Chris Schisler: "Josh Johnson made a compelling case to be the backup quarterback. He went 6-for-9 passing and led a criminally smooth touchdown drive against the Tampa Bay starters. He hit a couple of passes under pressure and made the right decisions with the football. If the grades were just for him I'd be handing out an A- for his efforts."
Reed: "After recording just 22 combined yards from scrimmage on 12 total touches the past two weeks, he exploded for a game-high 89 rushing yards on 12 carries that included his first NFL touchdown and added 11 receiving yards to his scrimmage total to bring it to 100 total yards."
Schisler: "Owen Wright came alive in the fourth quarter, as the main character in the early fourth-quarter touchdown drive. He had a 38-yard scamper, caught a pass to get inside the 5-yard line, and he finished the drive with a touchdown. Wright took advantage of his heavy workload. Other than a dropped pass, he impressed, and made one final plea for a job in September. If not in Baltimore, somewhere."
NFL.com’s Michael Baca: "Running back Owen Wright might've earned himself a roster spot with 89 yards and a TD run off just 12 carries."
It would be surprising to see Wright make the Ravens' 53-man roster with fellow undrafted rookie Keaton Mitchell also in the running, but making the practice squad is also a major accomplishment.
Near Consensus Among 53-Man Roster Projections
Entering the season, the Ravens had a few roster battles worthy of attraction, between the No. 2 quarterback role, starting left guard, and depth at wide receiver and cornerback. After a few additions, some short-term injuries, and a full training camp, it appears there's a near consensus among media members on who the Ravens will have on their 53-man roster.
Tyler Huntley over Josh Johnson for QB2
Hensley: "There's a question mark around the No. 2 quarterback job even though Huntley has clearly been better than Johnson. But the Ravens have been looking to upgrade the backup job all offseason and didn't rule out Johnson winning the competition after his strong showing in the second preseason game."
Shaffer: "Huntley, still limited by a hamstring injury, was only an observer at practice this past week. His athleticism and accuracy — plus the two weeks he has to get healthy for Week 1 — may give him the leg up on the 37-year-old Johnson, who followed a lights-out game against the Washington Commanders with another impressive start (6-for-9, 95 yards and a touchdown)."
Wacker: "The 37-year-old, who is on his 14th NFL team, came into training camp a long shot to make the roster and his chances are still probably not great. But he gave Harbaugh something to think about when it comes to at least the practice squad, going 6-for-9 for 95 yards and a touchdown in the preseason finale. Afterward, Harbaugh talked about the tenacity and resilience the veteran quarterback showed in trying to fight for a spot."
Keaton Mitchell for RB4
Hensley: "Mitchell, an undrafted rookie out of East Carolina, has really impressed with his speed and shows a lot of potential for the future. Melvin Gordon III, the former two-time Pro Bowl back, will start the season on the practice squad and serve as experienced insurance for Dobbins and Edwards."
Shaffer: "Mitchell returned from a minor shoulder injury Monday to participate in both practices this past week, but he was held out of Saturday's game. Even if the undrafted free agent projects as only a complementary piece, his cheap rookie contract could be an asset; of the Ravens' leading running backs, only Hill is signed beyond this season."
Wacker: "Mitchell practiced last week after returning from a minor shoulder injury but didn't play on Saturday, even though he was dressed for the game and had been featured on special teams and occasionally in the backfield the first two preseason games. That likely bodes well for the speedy undrafted rookie free agent out of East Carolina, who also comes cheap."
Tylan Wallace for WR6
Hensley: "Wallace held onto the final receiver spot with a strong preseason."
Shaffer: "If the Ravens keep six here, Wallace's preseason production and special teams value make him the obvious candidate."
Ben Cleveland makes the roster
Shaffer: "Cleveland was better suited for former offensive coordinator Greg Roman's smashmouth schemes than Todd Monken's more diverse looks, but he's played like the far safer option in pass protection."
Ravens Reportedly Had Trade Talks With 49ers for QB Trey Lance
On Saturday, the Dallas Cowboys traded a fourth-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers for quarterback Trey Lance. However, the Cowboys weren't the only team inquiring about the former No. 3-overall pick.
According to The Athletic's Dianna Russini, the Ravens "had conversations with San Francisco about a possible trade for Trey Lance."
The attempted move to land Lance likely involves the Ravens' consistent pursuit to improve at the backup quarterback position. This offseason, the Ravens reportedly attempted to sign both Baker Mayfield and Jacoby Brissett.
According to Russini, most conversations for a trade involved a sixth-round pick that could become a fifth-round selection.
Ravens to Face No. 2 Overall Pick in Season Opener
According to Houston Texans Head Coach DeMeco Ryans, No. 2-overall pick C.J. Stroud will be the Texans' starting quarterback for Week 1 against the Ravens.
Throughout Harbaugh's tenure, the Ravens have fared well against rookie quarterbacks.
Stroud won't be the only rookie on the Ravens' early schedule. They face the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3 and No. 4-overall pick Anthony Richardson has been named the starter. There's also a chance for them to face off against Will Levis with the Tennessee Titans in Week 6.
· Russell Street Report's Brian McFarland provided an in depth look at the Ravens' next salary-cap moves as the team heads into the regular season. McFarland wrote that the Ravens "will at some point need to create more Cap space to accommodate their future expenses" and said it could come via veteran contract restructures.
· The Athletic's Diante Lee said rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers "can be the most productive first-round receiver if [the Ravens'] offense jells quickly."
· Touchdownwire’s Doug Farrar released part of his top 101 NFL players, where he ranked Ronnie Stanley No. 84 and Marlon Humphrey No. 78.