The Ravens announced their 53-man roster for this season, and there were several surprises. There were trades, players put on IR, veterans being cut, and position battles won. It was one of the more dramatic roster days in recent memory for the Ravens.
The most notable cuts were quarterback Troy Smith, wide receiver Demetrius Williams, and kicker Shayne Graham. In addition, linebacker Antwan Barnes was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for an undisclosed 2011 draft pick.
For a full roster and reaction to the cuts, keep reading.
First, the full 53-man roster, grouped by position:
Now let’s make some sense of this. You’ll notice a lack of Ed Reed. He was cut, obviously. No, I’m joking, you can put the inhaler away. Reed was placed on the PUP list, meaning he won’t be eligible to play until at least Week 7. While losing him sucks, being on the PUP list clears a roster spot for another player. Also, notice that Cary Williams is not on the list. He’s suspended for the first two games of the season, and after that, he’ll be added to the roster. His return might lead to Prince Miller being demoted to the practice squad.
You’ll also notice that the team is only carrying two quarterbacks. That’s because Troy Smith was released, as I mentioned at the top of this post. While the organization loved Smith, they gave him his chances this offseason and he didn’t take them. The whole trade demand saga earlier in the year probably didn’t help either. The Ravens will go with Joe Flacco and Marc Bulger, and would probably add a free agent if injury forced them to do so.
Demetrius Williams was cut in favor of rookie David Reed and the unspectacular Marcus Smith. I’m shocked. I thought Williams had a very productive preseason, and from what I saw of him during training camp, I never had thoughts of him being cut. What it probably boils down to is his lackluster track record of success, or lack of it. He’s got all of the physical tools, but hasn’t done anything with them. He wasn’t a stud at Oregon, he was never better than a fifth receiver with the Ravens, and the flashes of brilliance he had shown over the past few seasons were just that, flashes. I like Reed and his versatility in the return game. His upside is very high, too. With Smith, it’s a mixed bag. He’s very solid on special teams, but I don’t think he’ll contribute anything in the passing game this year. A David Tyree type player, if you will. Regardless, it’ll be a bit odd not seeing Williams on the field this season.
Billy Cundiff is the kicker, Shayne Graham is not. I don’t like it, but the coaches do. Billy Cundiff has never been a great kicker in the NFL, Shayne Graham has. Billy Cundiff has never beaten the Ravens single-handedly by scoring seven field goals in one game, Shayne Graham has. Cundiff may have beaten him in this “position battle” by a neck, but what can possibly lead me to believe that Cundiff will perform all season as well as he did in the past month? The pressure is immense for every kick, and some are more nerve-wracking than others. Last year, Cundiff showed us that he’s not even close to being a top-class NFL kicker, and that’s what Shayne Graham has been for several years, minus last season. I don’t get it. Maybe someone can convince me, but I think that if they tried, they’d probably spontaneously combust.
Now let’s shy away from who got cut, and talk about who were the surprising inclusions. Lamar Divens was not on my radar this year. Obviously, he had proven himself in the past, but I thought the additions of Terrence Cody and Arthur Jones would lead to him not making the team. I projected Edgar Jones to make the cut, and I’m glad he did. The linebacker who was turned into tight end and then turned back into a linebacker showed aggressiveness and hustle during the preseason that was unseen in many other players. He’ll be a big contributor on special teams and in certain blitz packages on defense. Recent acquisition Josh Wilson still does not have a uniform number, hence the question marks in the number slot for him. The former Maryland Terrapin cornerback will most likely start alongside Fabian Washington and could return kicks if the team needs him to. Those kick returning duties will most likely be given to David Reed, with Prince Miller returning punts.