Various thoughts on various things, all in 50 words or less:
Whiffed on five of my 53-man roster picks because the organization was more aggressive than me about cutting veterans who could (and did) re-sign. I had Justin Ellis, Eric Tomlinson, Pernell McPhee and Anthony Levine Jr. on my 53. They got cut but still might play in the season opener.
The Ravens gambled and won by using that maneuver to retain younger, talented players. Defensive backs Ar'Darius Washington, Chris Westry and Geno Stone almost surely would have been claimed on waivers. By keeping them and successfully re-signing vets they cut, the Ravens invested in the future without forsaking the present.
It didn't surprise me that running back Nate McCrary and defensive back Nigel Warrior were claimed by other teams after being cut. Both put strong preseason performances on tape for other teams to review. Bottom line, when you have a lot of good players, you can't keep them all.
I'm sure the Ravens would have loved to have McCrary on their practice squad as insurance against another injury to a running back, especially with Justice Hill already dealing with an ankle injury. Now they have to go out and find another young running back for that role.
The Ravens are dealing with multiple injuries and their potential impact, but one stands out in advance of the season opener. Jimmy Smith was penciled in to cover tight ends in 2021 and the Raiders have a good one, Darren Waller. The status of Smith's injured ankle could prove critical.
It says a lot about the Ravens' player development program that Stone, quarterback Tyler Huntley, long snapper Nick Moore, linebacker Kristian Welch, running back Ty'son Williams and offensive lineman Trystan Colon were on the practice squad at the start of last season and made the initial 53-man roster this season.
Anyone dismissing the preseason as entirely meaningless should consider Huntley's rise in 2021. The second-year quarterback was competing for a job when training camp began and obviously benefitted enormously from getting on the field and carving up opponents. As the regular season begins, his confidence is through the roof.
Funny to hear Outside Linebackers Coach Drew Wilkins say he, too, is learning from Justin Houston, the veteran pass rusher who joined the Ravens last month. A bunch of younger guys have already said Houston is helping them. It seems his impact will extend well beyond whatever statistics he generates.
My best guess for the Week 1 lineup at receiver is Sammy Watkins and Marquise Brown starting out wide, with Devin Duvernay and James Proche II splitting time in the slot. It might not be what the Ravens envisioned but there's still plenty of talent and potential playmaking.
I wouldn't get carried away with concern about the Ravens' special teams being depleted. Their top three ST tacklers from 2020 are on the 53-man roster (Hill, Malik Harrison, Chris Board) and veteran mainstays Levine and Jordan Richards are on the practice squad and able to be called up.