Training camp is less than a month away. That is when the Ravens will begin the process to whittle down the roster from 90, to 53 guys. The best 53 guys. There are going to be some “bubble players” who will come seemingly from nowhere, undrafted, and will end up contending for a spot. Think of linebacker Zachary Orr from a year ago.
But there are some guys on the roster that we expect to be part of team, but certainly haven’t earned a roster spot. Guys that for one reason or another, could be on their final chance to make an impression, despite higher expectations. Guys that need to prove their worth because they are now getting closer to liability status than they are an asset.
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Here are three guys with the most to prove, and the possible scenarios where they might not be employed by the Ravens without a real good camp.
Brown has had trouble simply getting on the field. He was high on the Ravens wish list, not only as a second round draft pick, but a guy the Ravens traded three picks to the Seattle Seahawks to in order to move up six places to draft him. After notching just 15 tackles in very limited playing time during 14 games as a rookie, Brown only dressed for four games in 2014, often a healthy scratch from the game day lineup. He also didn’t see snaps as a linebacker, but was downgraded to a special teamer. The highlight for him was drawing a blocking in the back penalty against the Titans.
Brown has been a complete non-factor here, and with the way C.J. Mosely burst onto the scene as a rookie, playing time will again be minimal for Brown, unless he gets the attention of his coaches during this seasons training camp.
Brown must get better, or else: There is no room for him here. Unfortunately, teams always lose players to injury during training camp. The first one that has a middle linebacker go down, send trade offers including Brown their way. Even if the return is as little as say, a sixth round pick, get something in return. Former second round pick, Big 12 defensive player of year once, potential is there. Hey, if you can get something for Rolando McClain, selling a team on Arthur Brown should be a piece of cake.
Every year, Asa Jackson seems to be a guy the Ravens count on. Whether it be nickel corner, or replacing an injured Jimmy Smith or Lardarius Webb. He always looks the part of a playmaker in preseason games, giving the Ravens faithful high hopes for him. He covers receivers like blankets, and proves to be excellent as a kick returner. Something the Ravens will be looking for with Jacoby Jones no longer around.
But Jackson has been suspended…twice. Both times for unauthorized use of Adderall. A four game hit in 2012, then an eight game hit in 2013. In three seasons he has dressed in just 14 games, and the preseason play making ability has never translated to the games that matter. Jackson finally was able to get some regular playing time in 2014, starting six games. But we are still waiting for him to even record his first career interception.
Jackson has since gotten the proper authorization to use Adderall. But the previous suspensions give me the sense that he doesn’t mind not playing by the rules. What’s next?
Jackson must get better, or else: It’s simple. The Ravens save $660K against the cap by letting him go, in this, the last year of his rookie contract. Just $36K and change in dead money. Have to think Smith and Webb are your starters, newly acquired Kyle Arrington will handle slot duties. His only chance maybe to go back and prove himself on special teams with the other bubble guys.
KLM hasn’t seen any action since being drafted in 2013. He has found himself on IR with season ending injuries in each of his first two training camps. But he is a guy the Coach Harbaugh seems to really like, and even went on to mention him by name as a key piece of the defense in a State of the Ravens address, two years ago. Before he would end up on IR for the second time.
Lewis-Moore must stay healthy, and step up big, or else: Could the Ravens just cut their losses? The team would save nearly $563K in cap space, with close to $44K in dead money. Lewis-Moore is essentially a rookie, given that he hasn’t made it to the regular season yet. He has proven nothing. Not only does he need to stay healthy, Lewis-Moore needs to show that he’s the best DE on the team. Make the Ravens have a tough decision on who to let go. They usually carry three defensive ends, and they have five worthy of making it. Chris Canty, Deangelo Tyson, KLM, Brent Urban, and rookie Za’Darius Smith. Tough, yet open competition. Can Lewis-Moore seize the opportunity? Brent Urban is nearly in the same scenario. It would behoove the Ravens to keep the rookie Smith on the team. Canty was just resigned, so he seems safe. Does Tyson elevate himself too?