Late For Work 8/15: Predictions For Ravens’ Final 53-Man Roster

Pees the master of disguise? No-huddle is right plan of attack. Harbs on kicker decision.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, August 15th, 2012 at 9:11 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Predictions For Final 53-Man Roster  

When trying to project the Ravens’ final 53-man roster, most fans could easily predict about 40 spots – give or take a few – because most players are obvious virtual locks.

But that leaves a lot of grey area for the remaining 13 or so.

CBSSports.com’s Jason Butt projected the entire 53-man roster, noting there’s still time for a few changes. Feel free to look at his complete roster, but I’ve pulled out six predictions about decisions coaches may not have even made themselves and it will be interesting to see if they hold true.

And for those of you trying to win the You Pick The Team presented by New Era contest – a trip to see the Ravens play the Chargers in San Diego on November 25th – these predictions could either help or hurt you (I can’t say I agree 100 percent with them all, but they’re pretty good). So use your own judgment with these predictions, and take it easy on Butt if he steers you down the wrong road.

Prediction 1: The Ravens will keep three quarterbacks on the roster, adding veteran Curtis Painter.  “Coach John Harbaugh’s stated that Baltimore likes the idea of using Taylor more within the offense this year,” wrote Butt. “Taylor’s athletic and could be a wildcat quarterback this year. Plus, his arm strength and accuracy have improved. By keeping Painter, Baltimore would feel more comfortable about using Taylor more.”

Prediction 2: Neither Anthony Allen nor Damien Berry, the two early favorites to backup Ray Rice at the beginning of the offseason, will make the team. The two rookies, Bernard Pierce (No. 2) and Bobby Rainey (No. 3), are currently outperforming the more experienced backs, but that could change … “There’s still a lot of time for Allen and Berry to make a run,” wrote Butt. “There’s also a chance Baltimore seeks a veteran free agent if it feels none of the young running backs are ready to become Rice’s primary backup. If that’s the case, Rainey and Berry could wind up on the scout team and Allen could be looking for another team.”

Prediction 3: Baltimore keeps six receivers (you can guess the first three) with LaQuan Williams, Tandon Doss and rookie free agent Deonte Thompson getting the final three spots. That means sixth-round pick Tommy Streeter is out and David Reed is a possible IR candidate. “Streeter’s a project, a 6-5, 220-pound body with blazing, straight-ahead speed. Thompson’s more versatile, but had some issues dropping the ball in college,” wrote Butt. “Thompson’s outperformed him early but Baltimore doesn’t like to cut its draft picks.”

Prediction 4: Eight of the (likely) nine roster spots for the offensive line are a lock, but that final spot comes down to four players: Ramon Harwood, Tony Wragge, Justin Boren and Jack Cornell. Harewood gets it.  “Harewood, a sixth-round draft pick in 2010, has been banged up but appears the healthiest he’s been since coming to Baltimore,” says Butt. “He would also give the Ravens another body at tackle, with Osemele and Reid being swing guys.”

Prediction 5: Linebackers are the victim of keeping three quarterbacks. Danelle Ellerbe is in, but he could be pushed by Chavis Williams or Nigel Carr. “For now, Ellerbe remains in but needs to prove he belongs through the remainder of the preseason,” wrote Butt. “Williams could be a victim of Baltimore’s desire to keep three quarterbacks, and someone deep on the depth chart at another position would have to be released to make room.”

Prediction 6: Billy Cundiff is the kicker by default. “Cundiff gets the edge for now since there’s no indication what Harbaugh and his staff will do at kicker,” wrote Butt. “But it should be noted that Tucker has out-kicked Cundiff in practice. There’s still a lot of time before a final decision will be made but this battle could go down to the wire.”

Pees The Master Of Disguise?

Ravens Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron revealed the toughest defensive coordinator he’s ever had to scheme against.

And he’s had to face this opponent every day in practice this offseason: Dean Pees.

“Dean, I’ve known about Dean, and known Dean for a long time. When he was in New England, I went against him several times. He’s the best I’ve gone against,” Cameron told reporters yesterday. “And the reason I tell you that is because you can’t decipher – or he’s very difficult to decipher – what they’re trying to do.”

With the Ravens’ top pass rusher Terrell Suggs sidelined for an indefinite amount of time this season, plus losing defensive end Cory Redding to free agency, Pees’ ability to camouflage his defense is exactly what the team needs right now.

“The Ravens defense might need to become the masters of disguise to manufacture a fierce pass rush this season,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson. “Generating pressure through more elaborate blitz packages and overloads is likely to be a large part of the equation.

“For Pees … hiding his intentions is pivotal.”

Pees was more humble about his ability to fool an offense. He gave credit to smart coaches and quarterbacks around the league for their football smarts. He said the key to disguise is putting in a coverage that looks exactly like a blitz.

With younger, less-experienced players stepping up this year – Paul Kruger, Courtney Upshaw, Pernell McPhee, Arthur Jones and Terrence Cody – the Ravens will rely heavily upon their new defensive coordinator.

“Known for his cerebral approach, Pees has an instant recall of opponents’ tendencies gleaned from studying countless hours of game tape,” wrote Wilson. “The Ravens are counting on Pees’ football acumen.”

No-Huddle Is The Right Plan Of Attack

You saw it Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Ravens are using more no-huddle offense, which quarterback Joe Flacco “loves.”

And while the Ravens offense didn’t perform it to the best of its ability in its debut, ESPN’s Jamison Hensley likes the team’s decision to use it more often.

“The increased use of the no-huddle offense is the right plan of attack with Baltimore’s Joe Flacco,” he wrote.

“Flacco doesn’t gush often. So when he says he loves the no-huddle, this is significant. Flacco has a comfort level with the no-huddle and the shotgun because that’s what he ran for most of his time at Delaware.”

Hensley added that some of the fifth-year quarterback’s best moments last year came in the no-huddle, shotgun attack, including the winning drive at Pittsburgh and the almost-winning drive in the AFC championship.

“Despite Flacco’s support, I’m not sure how much more the Ravens will use the no-huddle attack this season,” the AFC North blogger wrote. “The Ravens used no huddle on 7 percent of their offensive plays, which already put them in the top half of the league.”

Highlights Of Harbs’ Fan Chat, Including Kicker Decision

In case you missed it, Coach Harbaugh chatted online with fans yesterday afternoon, answering questions for 30 minutes.

Here are some highlights (full transcript):

Lucas: What’s your opinion on the Cundiff and Tucker competition?

Harbs: It’s a good one. It’s a tight race. The great thing about it is that they’re both doing really well. I’m not concerned about it because they’re both doing well. They’re both going to be kicking for a team this year in the NFL. You let it play out and let the decision make itself.

Kelly rippeon: Do you think [Terrell] Suggs will play in the 2012-2013 football season?

Harbs: Yes, I do.

Jen: Coach is it concerning that you have to play the steelers twice in 3 weeks knowing its always a hard hitting game that takes alot out of the team?

Harbs: The Steelers have to play us twice in three weeks too, so I guess that evens it out.

Thomas: Coach have you ever seen Ray Lewis down or blue in the four years you have been with the Ravens? He always seems to talk and jump around on the sidelines.

Harbs: Never. Never seen Ray let disappointment or frustration get the best of him. When he does feel he’s being challenged he’ll get quiet. He’ll pray. That’s good advice for all of us.

Mohamed: Do you feel that Flacco has the potential to become within the top 3 quarterbacks this year?

Harbs: Absolutely.

Quick Hits

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