Ravens Roost

June 6, 2010 4:09 PM

The Ravens have a glut at linebacker

Ellerbe.jpg At the present time the Ravens are carrying 14 linebackers on their roster, a number that won't work when the team finalizes their 53 man squad. Outside of Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Jarret Johnson and Brendon Ayanbadejo there are a number of linebackers who aren't going to make the cut. The competition in training camp is going to be fierce and fast paced, and in the end the cream will rise to the top. 

The team appears to be high on newly drafted outside linebacker Sergio Kindle and they are going to give him a year or two before they know for sure if he's got the Raven mentality they're looking for. So you can call Kindle safe for the time being.

The same can probably be said for second year linebacker/defensive end Paul Kruger who has bulked up in weight this off season and is out to prove he belongs. Kruger admitted that the extra weight made him feel slower but he's slowly getting used to it and should be able to use that added bulk to make his way past offensive linemen.

Last years rookie free agent surprise Dannell Ellerbe should continue to make progress and could possibly move into a starting role this year. Ellerbe showed hustle and good football instincts in his rookie campaign and should only get better with time.

That leaves a bunch of players that will be watched closely to see which ones will once again play linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens stellar defense.

On the bubble

Antwan Barnes;
Barnes has been a Raven for four seasons now, each year surviving the cut and doing just enough to stay in the coaches good graces. He has showed decent pass rushing ability but his smaller size has often been a drawback when it comes to open field tackles. Barnes has the advantage of knowing the defense better then some of the younger players but that may not be enough to carry him this time.

Presscott Burgess;
 Burgess is another 4th year linebacker who never sees the field on a regular basis. He's been used primarily as a back up who gives the starters a breather for a few snaps. Burgess has played well at times and is versatile enough to move from inside to outside linebacker. He knows he'll have to fight to keep his name on the final 53 man roster.

Tavaras Gooden;
The 3rd round pick out of Miami has been a bit of a disappointment his first two seasons. While being put on injured reserve his rookie season he didn't seem to show much improvement in his second year. Gooden has plenty of speed but doesn't have the size to wrap up bigger running backs. He often times looks lost out on the field and misreads far too many plays. Gooden really needs to have a spectacular camp if he's to make it onto the final roster.

Edgar Jones;
 Jones hasn't played linebacker in a while. He's been busy lining up at tight end for much of the past two seasons. With the addition of Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson to the tight end position it's safe to assume that Jones will once again be able to go back to his natural spot at linebacker, but will the time away from that role hamper him in the beginning?  At 6-3, 263 lbs. Jones has the size to play defensive end and that is where he will most likely see the majority of his playing time this Summer.

Jameel McClain;
  After starting out strong in his rookie season McClain seemed to cool off a bit last season. He didn't get as much playing time in his second year and that's never a good sign for any player. McClain will need to show marked improvement this year if he's to have any hopes of sticking around.

William VanDeSteeg;
VanDeSteeg is another one of the linebacking corps that will most likely see time at defensive end. He had 75 tackles, 20 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles his senior year at Minnesota. If he can translate those numbers to the pro level he'll stick around for a long time. Van DeSteeg is another player that needs to show solid improvement going into his second season.

Jason Phillips;
  Phillips spent his rookie season on the injured reserve list so the coahing staff never had a good chance to evaluate his talents. Phillips, at 6-0, 236 will most likely have to bulk up if he's going to compete at this level. There was something about Phillips that caught the eye of general manager Ozzie Newsome, which is why he choose to sign him as a rookie free agent. As it stands Phillips may have the hardest road to climb ijn the fight for the final linebacking squad.

Some of these players may make their way onto the practice squad, some could get traded, and others will simply be cut. It's going to be interesting to see how this battle plays out in training camp come July 31st, which isn't very far away.  

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