Success starts at bottom of roster

Success starts at bottom of roster
August 27, 2013, 7:00 am
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Suggs is the new leader of the Ravens defense

When most people think of a team's roster, they immediately think of the superstars. The skill guys. The touchdown makers. The future Hall of Famers.

Jerry Rosburg has a decidedly different view.

As the head of the Ravens special teams units, Rosburg takes what he has described as a bottom-up look at the Ravens, for it's those players who seize the final few roster spots that usually land on Rosburg's special teams units.

And it is those final few spots that could still be up for grabs when the Ravens play the preseason finale at St. Louis on Thursday night.

Rosburg, in his sixth season as the Ravens special teams coordinator, stressed that for those on the roster bubble, Thursday's game is important, but only one more resume line in their collective body of work.

“The spotlight is on them, perhaps more from the outside, but the spotlight has been on them inside since Day One," Rosburg said after practice on Monday. "There is a lot more attention paid on the outside of how special teams are going to do in this game, because we all understand that that’s going to be an important aspect when we look at the back end of the roster – the last spots that are selected. And our guys know that, but they knew that in April."

Whoever claims one of those final few roster spots -- perhaps a fifth safety or a sixth wide receiver -- is sure to have a role on special teams, whether that be the punt return team, the kickoff coverage team, or in many cases, both.

It is up to Rosburg to mold those players into a unit. One of the main challenges for Rosburg is that the units are often in flux.  If a player is elevated to a more prominent role on offense or defense, his role might be reduced on special teams. Someone has to step up to fill that spot. When a new player joins the team, as reserve cornerback Chris Johnson did last season, he quickly becomes part of Rosburg's special teams unit.

"It’s ever-evolving," Rosburg said. "The NFL is a league of change, and the rosters change, coaching staffs change, it’s just change. So, when you go about it as a coach, what you’re trying to do is to teach as many guys as many things as you possibly can and get good, and then you’ll fit the parts together when you see the roster at the end.”

Rosburg and the Ravens will see the roster at the end on Saturday, when the 53-man squad must be set by 6 p.m. Then Rosburg will go about fitting his special teams parts together --  working, no doubt, from the bottom of the roster and moving up.

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