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Breaking down Ravens' 53-man roster

8/31/2014

The Baltimore Ravens' 53-man roster can change before next Sunday's season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, but here is how the team stands right now (*-denotes a projected starter; x-denotes a suspended player):

Quarterbacks (2)

The Ravens keep two quarterbacks for the fifth straight year, and it's the fourth in a row with the duo of Flacco and Taylor. Expect the Ravens to put rookie sixth-round pick Keith Wenning on the practice squad.

Running backs (4)

No surprises here. Rice is suspended for two games, which allows the Ravens to carry an extra running back in Forsett.

Receivers (7)

The Ravens' toughest decision was at wide receiver because Campanaro and Aiken had impressive training camps and Thompson turned it on in the preseason. In the end, the Ravens chose not to make a decision on who to cut and kept all of them. This is definitely a different situation for the Ravens, who have had trouble finding quality depth at receiver in their 19-year history.

Tight ends (3)

This is a completely different look from last year, when the Ravens began the season with Ed Dickson, Dallas Clark and Billy Bajema.

Offensive linemen (9)

This was the biggest surprise of the day. The Ravens cut A.Q. Shipley, who started nine games last season, and instead kept Hurst, an undrafted rookie out of North Carolina who struggled throughout training camp and the preseason. He was graded as the 111th offensive tackle (out of 141 tackles) by Pro Football Focus. Gradkowski becomes the top backup at center and guard, and Reid is the No. 3 tackle. How young are the backups? Reid is the most experienced, in his fourth season.

Defensive linemen (5)

The Ravens are thin at this position after defensive ends Kapron Lewis-Moore and Brent Urban both went down with season-ending injuries in training camp. Jernigan, the talented rookie second-round pick, backs up Ngata. Tyson will rotate with Canty. But there is a hole at nose tackle behind Williams. Cody (hip) is on the physically unable to perform list and will miss at least the first six games of the season. Even though Pernell McPhee can play on the line, it would be in the team's best interest to add depth.

Linebackers (10)

The Ravens overloaded at this position because of special teams. McClellan and Bynes are core players on the cover and return teams. The unexpected move was keeping Orr, an undrafted rookie out of North Texas, over John Simon, a fourth-round pick from a year ago. Orr was a long shot who made the team on the strength of his special teams (four tackles). It's a real logjam at inside linebacker where the Ravens are carrying six: Mosley, Smith, Brown, Bynes, McClellan and Orr.

Cornerbacks (4)

It wasn't going to be a surprise if the Ravens had kept one of their veteran backups, either Derek Cox or Dominique Franks. But the Ravens released both, which raised some eyebrows. The Ravens can re-sign them after the season opener, so their salaries aren't guaranteed for the entire year. What helps the Ravens is the versatility of safeties Terrence Brooks and Anthony Levine, both of whom can play cornerback.

Safeties (6)

Special teams played a big part in the thought process here. Levine, Miles and Trawick were among the top five special-teams tacklers from a year ago. That's why the Ravens went heavy at this position. Plus, as noted earlier, Brooks and Levine are versatile defensive backs. Hill is suspended for the first six games of the season.

Specialists (3)

There was no decision to be made on the specialists. Tucker, Koch and Cox team up for the third straight season.