7 Baltimore Ravens Veterans Who Could Be Camp Casualties
The Baltimore Ravens have undergone a youth movement since their 2013 Super Bowl victory, replacing franchise cornerstones with talented youngsters. Most of the departed veterans moved on through retirement or free agency, but more could potentially be on the way out as training camp casualties.
Most of the players on this list are going to wind up on the 53-man squad, but none of them have any margin for error in training camp. For some, there are younger players nipping at their heels for playing time and a roster spot. For others, they’re playing at a stacked position and may be cut because they’re the more expensive options with less upside than their fledgling challengers.
Baltimore’s roster is on the younger side, so all the “veterans” listed here are players who have at least three seasons of professional experience. It’s always shocking to see an established name get released, but that fate might await the seven players on this list.
Albert McClellan (LB)
Albert McClellan has switched back and forth between inside and outside linebacker in an attempt to find a niche on the Ravens defense. Unfortunately, those are two of the deepest positions on the roster, so playing time has been and will continue to be limited.
As a result, McClellan has made himself valuable by becoming a core special teamer—something that is even more valuable with the absences of Corey Graham and James Ihedigbo.
It makes more sense, however, for the Ravens to look for special teamers at positions where more depth is necessary (like safety or cornerback).
With young players like Kyle Juszczyk and John Simon emerging as good special teams players last year, there may not be as great a need for McClellan’s services. McClellan has been an underrated part of Baltimore’s success in recent years, but he may be a luxury for this season. His job security will depend on how the rest of the roster shapes up and whether Baltimore can afford to spend a spot on a pure special teamer.
Tyrod Taylor (QB)
Tyrod Taylor has shouldered the responsibility of being Joe Flacco’s only backup for the last few seasons, but the selection of Keith Wenning in this year’s draft means that he has competition for that role.
The Ravens face an interesting decision with respect to how many quarterbacks they'll carry this season. Carrying only one gives them an extra roster spot to “spend” on another position—something they’ve chosen to do for the last four seasons. Wenning would appear to be the long-term answer behind Flacco, but it’s unlikely that he’ll be ready for such a huge responsibility in his rookie year.
According to Jon Meoli of The Baltimore Sun, Taylor has been the more impressive backup in training camp, but he’s always been more impressive in practices than he has in games. A late surge by the rookie could vault him ahead of the incumbent on the depth chart, which means Taylor would be looking for a new team.
Terrence Cody (NT)
Terrence Cody never delivered on the expectations Baltimore had for him, and even though the Ravens re-signed him, it was only for a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal. General manager Ozzie Newsome has added a lot of young defensive line talent in the past two drafts, and Cody’s fate is directly linked to how the young guns fare in training camp.
Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Williams in particular pose a problem for Cody since both are capable of playing nose tackle. Neither boasts the size of Cody, but the Alabama product has never really put his gargantuan frame to good use, and his challengers are way more athletic.
Cody can earn his spot on the team by carving out a role as a run-stuffing space-eater in the middle of the trenches, but opening camp on the physically unable to perform list isn’t a good start.
Jah Reid, Will Rackley, A.Q. Shipley (OL)
These three vets are grouped together because they’ll be battling against each other to survive the final cuts. The Ravens have sorted out their starting offensive line (only right tackle is somewhat in the air), and they have a nice core of young depth behind those starters.
Ryan Jensen, Gino Gradkowski, John Urschel and James Hurst are all versatile options who are very young and have plenty of room to develop and grow under the tutelage of their position coach, Juan Castillo.
The coaching staff may want some veteran depth in the event of an injury, but it’s exceedingly unlikely that all three of the players listed in the slide title make the roster (and it’s possible that none of them make it).
Sam Koch (P)
Sam Koch is the safest player on this list, but he is by no means in the clear. The Ravens made a point of bringing in competition for Koch in the way of undrafted free agent Richie Leone.
The reason for that competition is Koch’s subpar 2013 season. He settled down after an erratic first half of the season, but that inconsistency was enough to merit a challenger. He struggled to pin opponents back inside their 20-yard line, as he had in previous years, and his performance was compounded by the offensive woes that occurred for a Ravens team that was constantly losing the battle of field position.
Koch’s experience and his close relationship with the rest of the special teamers (Justin Tucker in particular) give him a leg up on any competition, but one factor working against him is his cap number. According to Spotrac, Koch has the eighth-highest cap hit of NFL punters, but his performance last year wasn’t worth that salary.
He was a middle-of-the-road punter, ranking 13th in average yards, 22nd in net yards, 13th in punts downed inside the 20 and fifth in touchbacks.
Koch did play better in the second half of the season, so it’s more than likely that he regains his form and keeps his spot on the roster. But he could be in trouble if Richie Leone plays well in training camp. The Ravens may need to free up some cap space (this year and moving forward) in their attempts to sign Torrey Smith, Jimmy Smith and Justin Tucker to long-term extensions, and Koch may end up as a casualty of that effort.
Shehan Peiris is B/R's Lead Featured Columnist covering the Baltimore Ravens and a co-host of Ravens Central Radio, a weekly podcast on the Pro Football Central radio network that focuses on all things Ravens-related. For the latest Ravens news, draft analysis and links to episodes of Ravens Central Radio, follow me on Twitter:
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