The Ravens will wrap up the preseason Thursday night in New Orleans.
But don't expect to see Terrell Suggs, Eric Weddle and other veteran players in uniform. As they've done throughout Head Coach John Harbaugh's tenure in Baltimore, the Ravens won't play most of the starters as they shift their focus to the regular-season opener in Cincinnati.
"We'll go with the traditional way of handling it," Harbaugh said. "We haven't played our front-line guys in maybe nine years, so we're not going to do it now. Our guys need to get ready for Cincinnati. Our guys need to get ready to play the Bengals."
While the starters won't play, the fourth preseason contest is still critical in deciding the final few roster spots. Young players typically get the entire game to show what they can do, and some end up playing their way onto the 53-man squad.
A big difference with this year's finale is that teams have a much larger roster at their disposal. The NFL eliminated the cutdown to 75 players, which typically happened right before the final preseason game.
Count Harbaugh among those in favor of the new roster rules.
"I am really happy with it because 75 is never 75," Harbaugh said. "It is usually about 50 or 55, 60 when you take into account guys that are nicked and bumped and bruised and things like that. Then, you have certain guys that are not going to play in this game. That is just the reality of it. There is no way you are going to play certain guys in this game.
"Young guys who are fighting for a spot on this team still or on other teams, they get a chance to get out there and play more reps rather than be sitting home looking at the phone. To me, it makes all the sense in the world, and we are really happy about it."
Will Humphrey Play?
First-round pick Marlon Humphrey doesn't have to worry about making the roster, but he could still see action Thursday night. The Ravens typically play their rookies in that game, even if they are high draft picks expected to play key roles in the regular season.
The uncertainty with Humphrey is that he missed last week's game with a soft-tissue injury, which has hindered him this summer. He returned to practice this week, but the Ravens haven't made any announcements about his status for the game.
If Humphrey is healthy enough to play, the Ravens would certainly like to see him get more game reps. But they are also counting on him to be an important piece of this year's secondary, so they won't risk further injury if he's not ready to go.
Final Audition at Linebacker?
A spot on the defense that still looks like it's up for grabs is the weak-side linebacker spot next to C.J. Mosley.
Kamalei Correa and Patrick Onwuasor split the first-team reps last week, and both played into the fourth quarter. While both will be important pieces of the defense this year, the Ravens will have to decide whether they want one more look at them in game action to make a decision on the starter before going into the regular season.
If Correa and Onwuasor both sit, then that could open an opportunity for Bam Bradley and Donald Payne, who are competing for a roster spot after the season-ending injury to Albert McClellan.