Roster breakdown

September 03, 2001|By Jamison Hensley

Offense

Quarterbacks (3)

Starter: Elvis Grbac.

Backups: Randall Cunningham, Chris Redman.

Skinny: Grbac is beginning to show a comfort level, completing 57 percent of his passes despite lapses from pass protection and drops by receivers. The Ravens' plan is to have Redman continue his development by taking the second-most number of reps with the first-team offense in practice but turn to Cunningham first if Grbac goes down.

Tallbacks (2)

Starter: Terry Allen.

Backup: Jason Brookins.

Skinny: Allen, an 11-year veteran, gained only 37 yards on 16 carries but didn't get much help from the offensive line. To avoid wearing down Allen, the team will rotate in Brookins, who has yet to play a down in an NFL regular-season game. The Ravens are still looking at adding another back.

Fullbacks (3)

Starter: Sam Gash.

Backups: Obafemi Ayanbadejo, Alan Ricard.

Skinny: Gash is one of the league's best blocking backs, while Ayanbadejo has developed into a valuable commodity in the Ravens' one-back sets. Ricard earned his spot on the roster through special teams.

Wide receivers (5)

Starters: Qadry Ismail, Brandon Stokley.

Backups: Travis Taylor, Patrick Johnson, Jermaine Lewis.

Skinny: Ismail caught Grbac's only touchdown pass of the preseason, and Stokley averaged 18.3 yards on his three catches. Taylor is the slot receiver in the three-wide formations but still has his sights on breaking into the starting lineup. Johnson has always shown flashes, and Lewis has become a return specialist.

Tight ends (3)

Starter: Shannon Sharpe.

Backups: Todd Heap, John Jones.

Skinny: Sharpe needs 44 catches to become the NFL's all-time leader in catches among tight ends. His heir apparent is first-round pick Heap, who may catch 20 to 30 passes this season. Jones is a front office favorite whose impact will be on special teams.

Linemen (10)

Starters: LT Jonathan Ogden, LG Edwin Mulitalo, C Mike Flynn, RG Kipp Vickers, RT Sammy Williams.

Backups: T Erik Williams, T Leon Searcy (injured), C/G Casey Rabach, G Bennie Anderson, G/C Orlando Bobo.

Skinny: Ogden and Mulitalo form a strong combination on the left side, but there's questions with the rest of the group. Flynn has played only four previous games at center, and Vickers is a full-time starter for the first time in his seven-year career. The Ravens will start Sammy Williams at left tackle for the first couple of games until Erik Williams gets into football shape. The team has yet to decide how it will handle that spot when Searcy returns to the lineup in October.

Defense

Tackles (5)

Starters: Sam Adams, Tony Siragusa.

Backups: Larry Webster, Lional Dalton, Kelly Gregg.

Skinny: Adams and Siragusa are the game's best clogs in the middle and have been used as the blueprint by the league in assembling a defense. Webster is steady, and Dalton remains a work-in-progress. Although Gregg may not have the typical build for tackles at this level, he consistently makes plays.

Ends (4)

Starters: Rob Burnett, Michael McCrary.

Backups: Adalius Thomas and Dwayne Missouri.

Skinny: Burnett has gotten better with age, and McCrary sacrificed his pass rush to develop into a more well-rounded end last season. Thomas and Missouri, both late-round selections by the Ravens, have displayed potential.

Linebackers (6)

Starters: Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware, Jamie Sharper.

Backups: Cornell Brown, Brad Jackson, Ed Hartwell.

Skinny: Lewis, Boulware and Sharper have set the pace this preseason as the premier linebacking crew in the NFL. Brown is more of a run-stopper, Jackson will run on special teams and Hartwell seems to have a favorable future.

Cornerbacks (5)

Starters: Chris McAlister, Duane Starks.

Backups: James Trapp, Alvin Porter, Reggie Waddell.

Skinny: McAlister and Starks look to parlay their success in the postseason over to this year. Trapp is a sound nickel back, and Porter and Waddell beat the odds by making the team as undrafted free agents.

Safeties (4)

Starters: Rod Woodson, Corey Harris.

Backups: Anthony Mitchell, Gary Baxter.

Skinny: Woodson enters his 15th season and wants to bounce back after what he considered a subpar performance last year. Harris brings a more physical presence as the only new starter to the record-setting defense. During Harris' absence for a family emergency last month, Mitchell was impressive in his work with the first team. Baxter, the team's second-round pick, expects to miss the start of the season with a knee injury.

Special teams

Kicker: Matt Stover.

Punter: Kyle Richardson.

Long snapper: Joe Maese.

Skinny: Stover is coming off his first Pro Bowl season and connected on all three field-goal attempts in the preseason, including from 40 and 45 yards. Richardson is a specialist in angling out kicks inside the 20, leading the league the past two years. Maese, a sixth-round pick, carries a scary job title - rookie long snapper.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.