Bubble watch: Defensive line

Bubble watch: Defensive line
August 17, 2013, 10:00 am
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With the preseason schedule half over, the sense of urgency for those on the roster bubble is ramping up. The Ravens must trim their 90-man roster to 75 players by Aug. 27, and then the final 53-man roster must be set by Aug. 31, two days after the last preseason game in St. Louis.

Of course, many of those 53 spots are already spoken for. Coach John Harbaugh likes to say there is competition for every spot, but this just in, Joe Flacco will make this team. So will Ray Rice. And Terrell Suggs. And Marshal Yanda. In fact, 40 or so roster spots are probably already set, which leaves about 50 players fighting for roughly a dozen spots.

In this series we are taking a closer look at some of those players on the roster bubble and assessing their chances of making the team. (Links to bubble players on offense can be found here.) Today, it’s the defensive line.

ON THE BUBBLE: DE DeAngelo Tyson

Tyson, a seventh-round draft pick a year ago, played in 10 regular-season games, including two starts, last season as a rookie. But the Ravens' refurbished defensive front suddenly makes his roster spot much more tenuous.

The Ravens made clear this offseason that they wanted to upgrade the defensive line and they did, bringing in free agents Chris Canty and Marcus Spears and drafting Brandon Williams in the third round.

With stalwarts Haloti Ngata and Arthur Jones returning, along with fourth-year defensive tackle Terrence Cody, Tyson finds himself fighting to hold on to a job.

Tyson had 11 total tackles last regular season, but when he was asked to replace a banged-up Ngata, the dropoff was notable.

Tyson's chances are helped by Pernell McPhee's switch to outside linebacker, and by the hamstring injury to Spears, who is listed ahead of Tyson and behind Chris Canty on the Ravens depth chart. Spears did not play against Atlanta. Of course, McPhee has experience at defensive end and could always shift back, as the Ravens always talk about the importance of positional flexibility.

Tyson was quiet against Atlanta, and did not hit the field until the third quarter, when many starters and backups had called it a night. But with the uncertainty surrounding Spears' injury, and given that defensive linemen will get banged up from time to time, depth at the position is critical. If the Ravens keep seven defensive linemen, that might be just enough for Tyson.

Projection: Makes the team