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Late for Work 8/31: Players Who Could Land Elsewhere If Not In Baltimore


Players Who Could Land Elsewhere If Not In Baltimore

Though the main action on the field Thursday night was between the Ravens and Redskins, the more noteworthy competition was happening within each teams' own ranks.

Indeed, the main talking points from the Ravens' 30-20 victory over the Redskins will not be about the final score, but rather if players fighting for a roster spot did enough to make the team.

However, it should be noted that if a player does not make the 53-man roster, it doesn't mean he won't be playing in the NFL during the 2018 season. Plenty of players the Ravens ultimately opt to not keep will land on one of the other 31 teams in the NFL. Below are a few players pundits say are on the bubble that could land on another team should the Ravens not keep him.

QB Robert Griffin III

This has turned into one of the main talking points of the entire preseason.

Griffin, who did not play during Thursday's game, has put together an excellent preseason, completing 27-of-41 attempts for a quarterback rating of 87.8. He also ran for 52 yards on 11 attempts.

History is not on Griffin's side though, as the last time the Ravens named three quarterbacks to their opening roster was 2009.

This has been such a big storyline that Griffin's absence was one of the headlines from Thursday's game, and not just because it meant the he wasn't going to play against the team that drafted him. Media members interpreted his absence as it pertained to Griffin's chances of staying in Baltimore.

Others saw it as the Ravens holding Griffin out to ensure he didn't get injured, as it's being rumored that he is being monitored by a plethora of teams.

Griffin's fate is closely tied to the development of rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, who in his first NFL start on Thursday completed 9-of-15 passes for 109 yards, while also rushing for a touchdown. He finished with an 82.4 quarterback rating.

Whatever the outcome, there's little question that Griffin will be on an NFL roster this season. If that's Baltimore's roster remains to be seen. After the game, Head Coach John Harbaugh said he wants Griffin on the team, and that he's definitely deserving of a job somewhere. It's a math issue in Baltimore.

K/P Kaare Vedvik

The Norwegian dual specialist has also been sensational through the preseason. He's converted eight of his nine kicks, while also averaging 46.8 yards per punt.

Vedvik helped his stock against the Redskins by making all three of his field goal attempts, including one from 56 yards.

The 56-yarder was remarkably impressive, and immediately led to a flurry of tweets.

If the Ravens can land a draft pick for Vedvik, an undrafted free agent, his time in Baltimore would be viewed as a massive success.

The Ravens were never going to keep him over Tucker and Koch, and other teams are aware of that. It's a testament to Vedvik's ability that teams are considering giving up a draft pick for him rather than trying to get him on waivers.

This wouldn't be the first time an undrafted rookie specialist gets a full-time job after spending a summer on Baltimore's practice squad. Wil Lutz, who kicks for the New Orleans Saints, started his career that way in 2016.

WR Breshad Perriman

A first-round pick in 2015, Perriman appears to be on the Ravens' bubble in the final year of his rookie contract.

It was an up and down performance from Perriman against the Redskins. By the end of the night, Perriman led wide receivers with three catches for 24 yards, continuing a preseason that's had some encouraging moments.

There was also a rough moment for Perriman when he didn't manage to break up a deep pass from Jackson that was originally called an interception but overturned via replay.

Perriman could still land on another team's roster if he were to not make the Ravens' 53-man squad. Unlike Griffin and Vedvik, Perriman hasn't been mentioned in any potential trades, but a 6-foot-3 wide receiver with excellent speed is sure to draw some interest from other teams who need help at that position.

DL Bronson Kaufusi

Few players helped their case to make Baltimore's 53-man roster as much as Kaufusi did. He finished his night with 10 tackles, including two sacks.

It might be too late for Kaufusi though because of how deep the Ravens are along the defensive line, and his previous two seasons. As a rookie, Kaufusi broke his ankle during training camp, while his sophomore season saw him play in just three games, making five tackles.

Much like Perriman, Kaufusi isn't being linked in any trades. But a former third-round pick who ended his preseason with a monster performance could generate some interest.

Undrafted Rookie Running Backs Close Preseason on Strong Note

One of the Ravens' pleasant preseason surprises has been their depth at running back.

Behind Alex Collins, Buck Allen and Kenneth Dixon – the trio of running backs expected to be named to the 53-man roster – the Ravens have gotten standout performances from undrafted rookies Gus Edwards, Mark Thompson and De'Lance Turner.

Gus Edwards (Rutgers)

Of the three, Edwards probably had the best overall preseason. With Collins not getting many touches in preseason games, Edwards led the team in rushing yardage with 174, while averaging 3.3 yards per carry. His rushing yardage total was also fifth-most in the league during the preseason.

With Edwards not playing in Thursday's win because of an apparent ankle/foot issue, some pundits believe the Ravens should keep him in the organization by placing him on IR.

"Gus is not a guy the Ravens should let walk," Russell Street Report’s Adam Bonaccorsi wrote.

Mark Thompson (Florida)

Thompson took lead back duties with Edwards out and put together a strong performance, rushing for 91 yards on just 14 carries. His biggest moment of the night came early in the third quarter when he took a handoff to the right and made some Redskins miss. Thompson started getting crowded but was able to break away and switch the field for a big 32-yard gain.

Thompson is a prime practice squad candidate if he clears waivers, though Baltimore Beatdown's Kyle Andrews hasn't closed the door on him making the 53-man roster.

De'Lance Turner (Alcorn State)

Turner didn't stand out in the first three preseason games before exploding on the scene with a 65-yard touchdown run against Miami. It was Baltimore's longest play of the preseason, and Turner displayed some breakaway speed by pulling away from Miami's defenders.

Turner followed up that eye-catching performance with another long run Thursday night, where he displayed some elusiveness by making two Redskins miss before breaking away for a 32-yard gain.

Turner also could wind up on Baltimore's practice squad if he can get through waivers, which may not happen because of the big play ability he's displayed.

Patrick Ricard Stands Out on Defensive Line

During the Redskins' first drive of the game, voice of the Ravens Gerry Sandusky noted the presence of Patrick Ricard along the defensive line.

"He's getting a full night's work out there, at least in the opening half," Sandusky said.

Little did Sandusky know, Ricard was going to be on the field much longer than just the first half.

Ricard, who enjoyed a breakout season in 2017 with two touchdowns as the Ravens' fullback, played on both sides of the ball for much of Thursday's game. Considering the game was played in the hot temperatures of late August, it was quite an amazing feat.

Ricard's highlight of the game came midway through the second quarter when he broke through the Redskins' offensive line, stripped the ball from running back Samaje Perine, and then fell on it. A flag was also thrown on the play – not on Ricard, but on Redskins offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom, who was holding him throughout the entire play.

"That was all Patrick Ricard, this was incredible," former Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick said during the broadcast. "The coaches have talked about his improving ability. You see him on the inside, he literally just reaches up there, pulls it out and then falls on the ball."

Ricard finished his night with four tackles, as well as a quarterback hit. On offense he blocked well, including on Jackson's touchdown run.

Sandusky was surprised, as well as impressed, to see Ricard still on the field early in the fourth quarter, remarking "Patrick Ricard is about as old-school as they come. You almost feel like you should be watching him in black and white. He's like a 1950's two-way player."

Ricard left the field for good with 19 seconds left in the game. In his final play, he broke through a block and almost ran down Hogan, but couldn't get there before he threw the ball away.

"I wonder if they want to put him on the punt return team," Billick joked. "Is this guy a player or what?"

In the same vein, it was also notable that wide receiver/returner Tim White played some slot cornerback and defensive lineman Christian LaCouture played some middle linebacker with the Ravens short-handed last night because they rested so many veterans. White said after the game that he was told to just blitz.

Tyus Bowser Hit Generates Buzz Online

How tackling is refereed has been a major talking point throughout this NFL preseason, with much of the focus being on the league's new tackling policy about a player leading with his helmet.

Though outside linebacker Tyus Bowser was not penalized because of the new rule, he did draw a referees' flag that created some buzz online.

Midway through the second quarter of last night's game, Bowser charged into the Redskins' backfield unblocked and leveled quarterback Kevin Hogan a nanosecond after he threw the ball. It was a vicious hit, but a few moments after it happened, a yellow flag was thrown.

The penalty was for roughing the passer. Immediately after the decision was announced, a flurry of tweets from pundits who were dumbfounded by the decision were hitting Twitter.

Don't expect the conversation on how tackling gets refereed to stop anytime soon.

Quick Hits

  • One of the best moments of Thursday's game came after safety Kai Nacua picked off Hogan and returned the ball for a touchdown. It set off a raucous celebration on the Ravens' sideline, spearheaded by safety Eric Weddle, as numerous players sprinted onto the field to celebrate with Nacua.
  • Congratulations to this happy couple!

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