The Ravens reached the mandated 53-man roster limit on Saturday by cutting eight additional players, and the final roster yielded a few surprises and showed how versatility on special teams is important for those final few roster spots.
The final roster includes just two running backs -- Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce -- not counting the two fullbacks, Vonta Leach and Kyle Juszczyk. It was thought Bobby Rainey would stay with the team as a third running back and return specialist, but he was cut on Saturday.
After all the discussion and speculation, the Ravens ended up keeping seven receivers, cutting only Tandon Doss from a group that had waged an intense preseason competition.
The Ravens went with just two tight ends, cutting both Billy Bajema and rookie Matt Furstenburg (Maryland) on Saturday. Starting tight end Ed Dickson did not play any preseason games because of a hamstring injury, and the only other healthy tight end on the roster right now is Dallas Clark. But the Ravens kept Dennis Pitta on the active roster -- for now. Pitta is likely to be placed on the Injured Reserve-Designated to Return list next week, and that will free up one roster spot, which could be used on one of the more than 600 players released by other teams over the past two days.
Here is a complete look at the Ravens 53-man roster as of the Saturday, 6 p.m. deadline. Keep in mind that the "final" roster is basically written in pencil. There could be moves as soon as Sunday, and at least one roster move is likely before the Week 1 opener at Denver on Thursday.
QUARTERBACK (2): Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
No surprises here. Caleb Hanie competed but could not convince the Ravens to keep three quarterbacks.
RUNNING BACK (2): Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce
Bobby Rainey, Anthony Allen and Delone Carter were all in the running for the No. 3 running back job, but the Ravens chose to keep just two. That's a dicey proposition, especially since Pierce already has dealt with a knee injury in preseason, but it's possible Rainey will be signed back to the practice squad as a backup option. It's also possible Rainey will be signed by another team.
FULLBACK (2): Vonta Leach, Kyle Juszczyk
Keeping two fullbacks meant some other bubble would burst, and it's possible Juszczyk took the spot that might have gone to a third tight end.
WIDE RECEIVER (7): Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Brandon Stokley, Marlon Brown, Aaron Mellette, Deonte Thompson, LaQuan Williams
The Ravens finally ended the wide receiver competition by declaring a lot of winners -- they cut Tandon Doss on Saturday and kept every other challenger, including undrafted rookie Marlon Brown. Deonte Thompson missed most of camp with an ankle injury, and Baltimore native LaQuan Williams again makes the squad for his special teams work, which will be required of Brown and Mellette as well.
TIGHT ENDS (3): Ed Dickson, Dallas Clark, Dennis Pitta
Pitta remains on the 53-man roster for now, but only until the Ravens decide whether to use the IR-Designated to Return tag, or place him on season-ending IR. Either way, when that move is made -- probably Tuesday or Wednesday -- the Ravens can make a corresponding move and add a player.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, Rick Wagner, Jah Reid, A.Q. Shipley, Ryan Jensen
Jensen has a broken foot and, like Pitta, he is a candidate to go on injured reserve, which would free up another roster spot, and signing a free agent recently cut from another team is distinct possibility.
DEFENSIVE LINE (7): Chris Canty, Haloti Ngata, Arthur Jones, Marcus Spears, Terrence Cody, Brandon Williams, DeAngelo Tyson
The first six were locks to make the team. Cody solidified his spot with a strong camp. The only question was whether there would be room for Tyson on this deeper, improved unit.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (5): Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, Pernell McPhee, John Simon
This could be a strength of the team, and Simon, the rookie fourth-round pick from Ohio State, has time to grow into the position and an outstanding group of mentors in front of him.
INSIDE LINEBACKER (4): Daryl Smith, Josh Bynes, Albert McClellan, Arthur Brown
No surprises here, once Jameel McClain was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Smith might have been the training camp MVP, and Bynes completes the elevation from undrafted free agent to starter.
CORNERBACK (4): Lardarius Webb, Corey Graham, Jimmy Smith, Chykie Brown
Considering Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh frequently say you can never have too many corners, it's a bit surprising the Ravens kept onlyfour. They cut seventh-round draft pick Marc Anthony, and Asa Jackson is serving an eight-game suspension. It's possible the Ravens look to other team's cuts for another corner, and keep in mind safety Michael Huff also has extensive experience playing cornerback.
SAFETY (5): James Ihedigbo, Michael Huff, Matt Elam, Anthony Levine, Brynden Trawick
Trawick, an undrafted rookie from Troy, is the day's big winner. Trawick made the team over Omar Brown, which was seen as an upset since Brown was listed ahead on the depth chart and started the final preseason game. Trawick opened eyes with a blocked punt in the preseason opener at Tampa and he and Levine clearly impressed enough on special teams to warrant roster spots.
SPECIALISTS (3): Sam Koch, Justin Tucker, Morgan Cox
Zero suspense here. Their inclusion was like a Justin Tucker 30-yarder: automatic.