Instead of offering my thoughts on the Ravens’ 14-13 win over the New Orleans Saints in their preseason finale Thursday night, I’m going to predict Baltimore’s 53-man roster after cuts are made by Saturday’s deadline.
Quarterback: Joe Flacco, Ryan Mallett
Skinny: Flacco’s back injury creates more uncertainty than usual, at least until he proves he is healthy. But not enough uncertainty for the team to go with three quarterbacks. Mallett, on a $2 million deal, was always going to be the backup, even though Josh Woodrum outplayed him at times in the preseason. Woodrum could land on the practice squad.
Running back: Terrance West, Javorious Allen, Danny Woodhead, Taquan Mizzell
](http://www.baltimoreravens.com/ravensflock/contests/you-pick-the-team/index.html)Skinny: West is the starter. Allen has shown he can handle a load. Woodhead’s hamstring injury creates enough uncertainty that Mizzell makes the team and, my bet, gets a shot to return kickoffs. As for fullback, the Ravens took a hard look at Patrick Ricard in that role Thursday night. He’s a for-real blocker who can also play tight end. It’s a gamble, but I think they’re going with Ricard and Nick Boyle at fullback, which is bad news for Ricky Ortiz and Lorenzo Taliaferro.
Wide receiver: Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin, Breshad Perriman, Michael Campanaro, Chris Moore, Chris Matthews
Skinny: Everything was up for grabs after the three locks. Moore had been quiet until he grabbed a touchdown pass Thursday night. Campanaro, if healthy, will get snaps and a chance to make plays. Matthews makes it primarily for his special teams play and size that gives him value as a red-zone target. Quincy Adeboyejo was sharp in camp but quiet in games. The Ravens would love to give Keenan Reynolds another year on their practice squad.
Tight end: Nick Boyle, Benjamin Watson, Maxx Williams
Skinny: It’s a bit of a dice-roll because Watson and Williams are both coming back from major injuries and, it seems, not ready to carry a heavy load. But the Ravens are happy with Boyle’s development and believe the other two will become more productive as the season progresses. If they’re concerned, the Ravens can keep a fourth tight end such as Vince Mayle or Larry Donnell. But that means subtracting a player elsewhere.
Offensive line: Marshal Yanda, Ronnie Stanley, Ryan Jensen, James Hurst, Austin Howard, Jeremy Zuttah,* *Matt Skura, Jermaine Eluemunor, De'Ondre Wesley.
Skinny: Things have been unsettled here, but in the end, the first five on the list will start, with Hurst playing left guard. The other four are backups, and each can play several positions. Injuries to Alex Lewis and Nico Siragusa opened spots for Skura and Wesley. Wesley’s spot could be tenuous if the Ravens find another backup tackle.
Defensive line: Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce, Brent Urban, Bronson Kaufusi, Carl Davis, Chris Wormley, Patrick Ricard
Skinny: The Ravens are deeper here than at any position, forcing a tough choice. The first three on the list are starters. Kaufusi’s star is rising. Ricard is an undrafted free agent who showed the right stuff from the day he hit town. Wormley might struggle for snaps as a rookie, but the Ravens like him. Davis is a quality backup who intercepted a pass Thursday night. The team can’t keep eight here. Willie Henry is the odd man out.
Inside linebacker: C.J. Mosley, Kamalei Correa, Patrick Onwuasor, Bam Bradley
Skinny: Albert McClellan’s knee injury created a job opening, and Bradley grabs it; he was nothing short of spectacular on special teams Thursday night. Correa and Onwuasor are competing for a starting job, but both are safe.
Outside linebacker: Terrell Suggs, Matthew Judon, Tyus Bowser, Za'Darius Smith, Tim Williams
Skinny: Judon has shown great improvement. Some thought Smith’s spot might be in jeopardy, but he has performed well. Bowser, a rookie, looks like a three-down player, a future starter. Williams will get a look as a situational pass rusher.
Cornerback: Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, Marlon Humphrey, Jaylen Hill, Sheldon Price
Skinny: I’m sure the Ravens are tempted to go with more guys at this key position, given Smith’s injury history and the fact that Humphrey also battled an injury during the preseason. But Carr has never missed a start, and Lardarius Webb, though now a safety, can fill in at slot corner and provide depth at the outside slots. Hill played his way onto the team with a stellar preseason.
Safety: Eric Weddle, Tony Jefferson, Lardarius Webb, Anthony Levine Sr., Chuck Clark
Skinny: Weddle and Jefferson are the Ravens’ biggest free-agent acquisitions of the past two years. Levine could get snaps at linebacker in nickel and dime situations. Clark, a 2017 late-round pick, will be a factor on special teams.
Specialists: Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Morgan Cox
Skinny: No drama here. All three are among the best in the league at their specialty.