Local Products Making Final Push To Make Ravens


Tight end Matt Furstenburg chugged a Gatorade and prepared to get a lift in, thankful to see another day in Owings Mills, Md.

The Ravens still have to cut two more players to get to 75 by Tuesday at 4 p.m. But chances are looking good that Furstenburg and a couple other local Baltimore prospects – linebackers Brandon Copeland and D.J. Bryant – have survived the first cut.

They're on to the next round, scratching to make the final 53-man roster or, at the very least, be retained on the practice squad.

"I'm lucky to be here," Furstenburg said. "Hard work has paid off to survive the first round of cuts. I'm just trying to work hard and make the next cuts."

Furstenburg, the fleet-of-foot University of Maryland product, lasted longer than veteran tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. Furstenburg was one of just three tight ends on the roster throughout most of the summer, but* *has three more challengers in the form of Billy Bajema, Dallas Clark and Alex Silvestro. The Ravens will likely only keep three tight ends, so Furstenburg would still have to beat out Bajema and Silvestro if he's going to make the team behind Ed Dickson and Clark.

Furstenburg has improved throughout training camp, and performed well in preseason games. He had a tough catch over the middle for 24 yards in Tampa Bay. He followed that up with two snags for 23 yards against Atlanta.

"Matt [Furstenberg] has done well," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He's in the hunt, and he'll get a chance Thursday night to try to make an even stronger case. He's done well."

Copeland, who played at nearby Gilman High School, has been making the transition from being a defensive lineman to linebacker. Bryan Hall was making the same switch, but didn't survive the first cut.

Copeland made one of the most impressive plays of the preseason when he hauled in a juggling one-handed interception in Tampa Bay. He said it was a "hallelujah" moment, but is still bothered by the fact that he didn't return it for a touchdown.

"I'm my biggest critic and I won't be happy unless I'm here next week," Copeland said.

Copeland said the transition to inside linebacker has been "interesting." He's still very much learning.

"It gives me an excuse to watch more film," Copeland said. "The best thing is I look at other players and trying to pick out what type of player I want to be. I take one or two things from each guy that can make me a better player."

Linebacker D.J. Bryant, who played at Randallstown High School, is also still on the roster. Bryant hasn't yet logged a tackle and has seen little action. He's got 28 snaps in three preseason games, and will likely get his best shot at making the team Thursday night in St. Louis.

One local player who didn't make it through the first round of cuts is former Towson wide receiver Gerrard Sheppard. Harbaugh pointed to Sheppard when talking about the difficulty of cutting players.

"I think of Gerrard Sheppard, a local guy from Towson," Harbaugh said. "He just did a great job for us, really talented. He's a hard-working, good person. No matter what he does in life, he's going to be amazingly successful."

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