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Positional Battles For Roster Spots

The Ravens roster must be trimmed to 53 by Saturday. Who needs a big week?

Posted by Mike Duffy on Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Categories: 2011 Season Gameday, Mike Duffy

Teams across the NFL are mulling ways to cut their roster down to 53 players by Saturday, which means several players on the roster bubble will be giving it everything they have these last few days to stick around.

The Ravens trimmed nine players over the weekend to get down to 81, and one more cut must be made by Tuesday for the league’s first deadline.

Then, the final list will be pared down on Saturday.

Here is a look at some of the positions with the biggest bubble battles:

Wide receiver: Williams vs. Smith
LaQuan Williams’ name has been thrown around a lot during the preseason for strong performances on both offense and special teams. The Maryland undrafted free agent has four catches for 84 yards, including a long of 38. Williams also returned a punt 38 yards to set up a game-winning drive last week.

With the release of Justin Harper, Williams’ main threat is Marcus Smith for the sixth receiver spot. Smith is known for his special teams contributions and has three years in Cam Cameron’s offense.

Interior offensive line: Extra man?
Oniel Cousins was waived Saturday so now the Ravens move forward with Bryan Mattison and Mark LeVoir as their main interior line depth. But, could Ohio State’s Justin Boren sneak onto the active roster or practice squad? A rookie free agent, Boren saw some brief time with the starters during training camp at right guard.

Tight end: Drew vs. Wilson
Davon Drew was a fifth-round draft pick in 2009, but the Ravens’ selection of Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta last year made the tight end position deep. The third tight end position isn’t a lock for Drew, either, as eight-year veteran Kris Wilson has performed solidly of late. Wilson is tied for the team lead with seven receptions for 83 yards during the preseason.

Safety: Mana Silva?
While the Ravens sort out whether Tom Zbikowski, Bernard Pollard, or Haruki Nakamura will start next to Ed Reed, Mana Silva has earned a lot of playing time this summer. The Hawaii product finished second in the NCAA with eight interceptions last year, and he currently owns four tackles and one special teams stop for the Ravens. Silva may be able to earn a special teams role.

Running back: Parmele vs. Allen
The Ravens have a top backup for Ray Rice in Ricky Williams, but the question of whether they want to keep another viable runner remains to be seen. Jalen Parmele has been the Ravens’ kickoff returner in the past, so there is some familiarity there, but Anthony Allen has flashed in the rushing attack. Currently, the seventh-round draft pick is averaging 6.4 yards per carry. Matt Lawrence and rookie free agent Damien Berry could also be in the conversation, but each player has missed time due to injury in the preseason.

Defensive line: McAdoo vs. Divens vs. McKinney
The recent addition of Michael McAdoo clouds this position, as the promising rookie edge rusher could mean that guys like Lamar Divens and Brandon McKinney could get pushed out. McAdoo has a big week of practice ahead of him to show the Ravens’ coaches that he deserves to stick around.