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Only A Couple Ravens Spots Up For Grabs


In order for the fourth and final preseason game to have more meaning, it's often billed as a game in which all the backups are battling for spots.

That may be a bit over dramatic.

On Tuesday, Head Coach John Harbaugh was asked how often in his five years as a head coach that a competition between two spots was so tight that one play in the fourth game could make the difference?

"Probably not often, in all reality," Harbaugh said.

"But, I would say [that] in this game, there are a couple of those. There are a couple guys that, perhaps if they really, really play well, they could really play themselves on [to the team], or guys could play themselves off. It's possible."

Just a couple days before the 53-man roster is determined, there is a couple of spots up for grabs. Many of the players suited up Thursday night will probably be playing their final game for the Ravens. That's already all but sealed.

But there are a few who are playing for their livelihood.

"You understand what's at stake, and you're a part of [players'] dreams," Harbaugh said. "We talked to our team about that, and [we] just have great respect for players in this league [and] have great respect for how hard it is and the disappointment these guys face."

Starting inside linebacker Josh Bynes was in a very tight positional battle not too long ago. He was an undrafted rookie out of Auburn in 2011, and entered the final preseason game in Atlanta with just six tackles in the previous three games.

Bynes busted out in Atlanta. As the starting inside linebacker, he recorded six tackles and two sacks. He made an impression.

Bynes was cut just two days later, and wasn't even brought back to the practice squad. Yet in November, when the Ravens were dealing with injuries, Bynes was inked to the practice squad, then brought up about two weeks later.

"Especially on this team, practice has a lot to do with whether you make the team," Bynes said. "You don't want to blow the fourth game out of proportion. At the same time, it's big, it's huge. Even if you don't make it here, it's an audition for all 31 other teams."

Safety Omar Brown could be one of the two players in a tight position for a spot. He's competing with Anthony Levine for the likely fourth and final safety spot behind Michael Huff, James Ihedigbo and rookie Matt Elam.

Brown was waived last year at the end of camp, but signed to the practice squad a day later. He was waived from the practice squad in mid-November, then re-signed to the unit four days later, then moved to that active 53-man roster nearly a month later.

This year, Brown enters the fourth preseason game with a different mentality than he had last season.

"Last year was more intense. I was pretty tense, worrying about this and that. I was worrying about all the wrong things. This year I'm a lot more relaxed and focused on my job and the task at hand," Brown said.

"I can understand how the rookies feel right now. They don't know. They're probably worried about everything right now. The best thing is to just go out there and do what you do."

One rookie going through that is local Gilman High School product Brandon Copeland. The inside linebacker has a long shot of making the team, but he's hoping to make a big impression like Bynes did in his final preseason game as a rookie. Copeland has already notched an interception this preseason.

"Ever since I've got signed by the Ravens, I've been focused on the long-term goal and trying to make the team," he said. "It would be such an accomplishment. I would still be around these guys every day with a chance to learn. To think where I was in February, it's crazy."

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