Baltimore Sun: Five Ravens In Jeopardy For First Round Of Cuts
While the third preseason game is mostly known for featuring NFL starters, it will also impact the Ravens' roster decisions next week. The team must trim the roster from 90 to 75 by Tuesday at 4 p.m.
The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec named five players who are in jeopardy of getting released in the first round of cuts.
CB Kyle Arrington
There is a lot more competition at cornerback than there was at this time last year, and it has been tougher for Arrington to stand out, especially since he's been on the sideline nursing an injury.
Zrebiec: "Arrington is a total pro and he's had a strong career for a former undrafted free agent, but it appears his days with the Ravens are numbered. The veteran hasn't returned from a significant concussion sustained in the preseason opener, and even before the injury, it looked as if the additions of veteran Jerraud Powers and rookies Tavon Young and Maurice Canady would cost him a spot."
OT James Hurst
If Zrebiec is right, and Hurst is cut Tuesday, it would be a tough fall for a guy that started 15 games over the past two seasons, including in two playoff matchups.
Zrebiec: "That's not bad for an undrafted free agent tackle. However, he struggled last year and he hasn't distinguished himself much this summer. Hurst is behind both rookie fourth-round pick Alex Lewis and De'Ondre Wesley for a reserve tackle role."
ILB Arthur Brown
Brown could still very well make the team, but if practice snaps are an indicator, he is behind both Zachary Orr and rookie second-rounder Kamalei Correa for the weak-side linebacker spot next to C.J. Mosley. The Ravens won't like cutting a 2013 second-round draft pick, but Zrebiec says Brown's opportunity to win over the role this summer "never really materialized."* *Zrebiec: "The Ravens are relatively thin at the position, which, along with his special teams ability, could save Brown. However, the former Kansas State standout is a long way from a roster lock."
WR Chris Matthews
This is simply a numbers game that Matthews may fall victim to. The Ravens may only keep six receivers, and even if they keep seven, there are too many players in front of him on the depth chart, including Steve Smith Sr., Kamar Aiken, Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman, Michael Campanaro, Chris Moore and Jeremy Butler.
Zrebiec: "Good luck finding anybody who doubts that the 6-foot-5 Matthews is an NFL-caliber receiver. He had a solid start to training camp too, but a soft-tissue injury kept him sidelined for two weeks, and now he may be out of time. … Matthews will probably be on the outside looking in."
DE Kapron Lewis-Moore
Numbers game part II. Lewis-Moore's main competition is fourth-round pick Willie Henry, who Head Coach John Harbaugh wasn't too happy with at the end of last week's game. Henry jumped early into the neutral zone with five seconds remaining, which gave the Colts a shot at a 62-yard field goal instead of a Hail Mary. But Zrebiec still gives the nod to the rookie over Lewis-Moore.
Zrebiec: "Lewis-Moore has done all the right things this summer and the Ravens would love to keep the hard-working and resilient defensive lineman. There just might not be a spot unless the Ravens decide to keep Lewis-Moore over [Henry]. If the Ravens keep six defensive linemen which is the expectation given the roster crunch elsewhere, Lewis-Moore could be the victim of a number's game."
Joey Bosa Wants What Ronnie Stanley Already Got From Ravens
It's funny …
I was talking with Garrett Downing and Ryan Mink in "The Lounge" when the San Diego Chargers laid the hammer on their third-overall draft pick, Joey Bosa. (Speaking of "The Lounge" … be sure to download today's episode, featuring a 40-minute interview with Steve Smith Sr. It's sure to be good.)
The club tweeted the contract details of its “best offer" to the rookie, which he subsequently rejected, and the team is now rescinding that offer. It looks like Bosa is going to miss games over it, and the worst-case scenario is he holds out the entire year and re-enters the draft in 2017.
Downing, Mink and I talked about how Bosa was a popular projection to the Ravens, but maybe it was a good thing he didn't fall to No. 6 so that Baltimore could avoid all the drama. After Bosa held out of training camp, the Chargers did what professional teams rarely do. They took the negotiations public, appearing to try to win the PR war with the San Diego fan base.
It's gotten ugly, and no NFL franchise wants that cloud over its head.
But, turns out, that cloud may never have even formed had Bosa actually fallen to the Ravens and they selected him.
That's because Baltimore gave first-round pick Ronnie Stanley what Bosa is looking for from the Chargers, according to Joel Corry, who is a CBS Sports contract and salary cap expert and former sports agent.
Bosa is the longest holdout since the 2011 CBA instituted a slotting system that essentially dictates how much rookies make during their first years in the league. There isn't much wiggle room for negotiations on either side, but there are still two remaining battle grounds: offset language and how quickly signing bonuses are paid.
According to The MMQB's Albert Breer, Bosa is willing to give on offset language, but he wants his full signing bonus in this calendar year, and not spread into 2017.
While Stanley's bonus is about $4 million less overall, he will get 100 percent of it in this calendar year, per Corry. It's unknown if the Ravens would have tried to defer some of that had they owed the full $17 million that the Chargers owe. But, we do know that if Bosa fell to No. 6, he would get the same signing bonus as Stanley and wouldn't have needed to hold out to get it all up front.
That said, nobody's taking sides here. The Chargers want to maintain a team precedent of deferring a percentage of significant signing bonuses into the next year, and they have that right.
"Maybe a winner will eventually be declared," Breer wrote. "Maybe Bosa will get all of his $17 million signing bonus in 2016. Maybe the Chargers will prevent that from happening, pair that notch on their belt with offset language, and walk away with their all-important contract precedents still intact.
"Either way, let's call this 'showdown' what it is: Kind of dumb. … This whole thing is a champagne toast to stubbornness by everyone involved."
Keep Your Eye On Rookie Pass Rusher Matt Judon Saturday
A person to keep your eye on Saturday night against the Detroit Lions is rookie pass rusher Matt Judon.
The fifth-round pick out of small-school Grand Valley State has essentially notched three sacks in two preseason games (one doesn't officially count because stats aren't kept on two-point conversion attempts), and Head Coach John Harbaugh said his performances have earned him snaps with the first-team defense.
That shouldn't be too hard to do because the Ravens' top three outside linebackers are expected to be on the sideline.
"Of course John Harbaugh isn't doing this for the fans' benefit, but instead to see if the rookie is just bullying second-stringers or if he’s skilled enough to battle starting lineman," wrote Baltimore Beatdown's Kyle P Barber.
"The difference between starters and depth lineman is a great step, so do not be surprised if Judon doesn't quite continue his sack streak to three games. It also won't help with the other pass rushers not playing. Not many players can break through double teams, and if Judon is beating his man one-on-one they'll get a second guy to help, as they can afford to with Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil and Za'Darius Smith all not expecting to play on Saturday."
First Chance To See What Newcomers Benjamin Watson And Mike Wallace Can Do
Neither Benjamin Watson nor Mike Wallace – the Ravens' two big offensive signings in March – has made an impact in the preseason. In the one game they suited up for, they didn't get a single target from backup quarterback Ryan Mallett.
But now starter Joe Flacco will be on the field for about two quarters and that could change things.
Watson and Wallace have taken plenty of snaps in practice with Flacco, and the connection between them has been noticeable. Now it's time to see if they can translate that to a game.
"Backup quarterback Ryan Mallett has played reasonably well in the first two preseason games, but free agent pass catchers Benjamin Watson and Mike Wallace really haven't had much of an opportunity to get involved in the offense," wrote Zrebiec.
They should get plenty of opportunities Saturday night.
Neither Smith nor Perriman is expected to suit up, which should equate to plenty of snaps and targets from Flacco in the first half. And at tight end, Watson is expected to get the start as Dennis Pitta and Maxx Williams nurse ailments.
"Saturday's game will be Flacco's first with Wallace] in the lineup and the Ravens hope that their connection helps [fuel better production through the air than they had before and after Flacco got hurt last year," wrote ProFootballTalk.com's Josh Alper.
Ravens' Non-QB MVP: Terrell Suggs
If you had to choose an MVP of the Ravens outside of Flacco, it's seems like an easy answer, right?
Sure, there are several candidates in the discussion, including guard Marshal Yanda, cornerback Jimmy Smith and wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. But after the Week 1 injury that completely changed the way the Ravens played defense last year, the answer is evident. It's defensive leader Terrell Suggs.
ESPN picked a non-QB MVP for every NFL team, and Jamison Hensley made the right call in picking Suggs.
"Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti said at the end of last season that he didn't realize how valuable Suggs was until he suffered a season-ending Achilles injury 3 1/2 quarters into the 2015 season," wrote Hensley.
"'It was the biggest domino effect of losing one guy,' Bisciotti said after Baltimore finished 5-11. The numbers back up the importance of Suggs. With Suggs, the Ravens are 109-73 (.598) and allow 17.9 points per game. Without him, Baltimore is 11-15 (.423) and gives up 23.7 points per game since 2003 (his first season)."