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Baltimore Ravens: Rookie CB Marlon Humphrey could be key contributor

By The Sports Xchange
Baltimore Ravens: Rookie CB Marlon Humphrey could be key contributor
In the final preseason game against the Saints, Marlon Humphrey (center) forced a fumble on Saints running back Daniel Lasco and was solid in coverage. Photo courtesy of Baltimore Ravens/Twitter

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens rookie cornerback Marlon Humphrey played in just two preseason games because of a hamstring injury. However, the rookie first-round pick shined when given opportunities, which could earn him some reps against the Bengals in the opener.

"I think he will rise to the challenge very well," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. "Expectations are high. He is our first-round pick; he is a high pick. He is a really good player. He is confident. He has been well coached at Alabama, obviously. He has been in any kind of big situation that you could ever put a college player in. He has been in it, on the island so to speak. I have a lot of confidence that he is going to play at a very high level."

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In the final preseason game against the Saints. Humphrey forced a fumble on Saints running back Daniel Lasco and was solid in coverage. Humphrey is behind Brandon Carr on the depth chart, but he has the coaches' confidence.

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The Ravens made a couple of late moves to boost the offensive line.

Baltimore acquired Tony Bergstrom for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2018 on Friday. The following day, Baltimore acquired center Luke Bowanko from the Jaguars for a seventh-round pick in 2019.

"Those guys are guys that our scouting department feels really good about, and they have looked at those players," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. "They are players that we know to some degree because we've played against them from time to time, but we are excited to add those guys to strengthen our offensive line. I feel like that was a goal throughout. We have talked about that before. Those are two good players that became available in trades."

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The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Bergstrom was a 2012 third-round selection of the Oakland Raiders and has played in 40 career games, including four starts. He spent four seasons with Oakland and 2016 with the Houston Texans.

The 6-foot-6, 300-pound Bowanko has appeared in 25 NFL games, including 14 starts at center. Originally a 2014 sixth-round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars, he saw action in all 16 games as a rookie and made 14 starts.

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In 2015, he played in seven games. He was on the physically unable to perform list (hip) for the first 13 weeks of the 2016 season and then played in two games.

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These acquisitions meant that Jeremy Zuttah's second stint in Baltimore was a short one. The offensive lineman signed a two-year deal Aug. 18 after being released by the 49ers. He started three years in Baltimore (2014-16) before being traded to San Francisco in March.

Despite having multiple injuries on the offensive line, Zuttah simply did not play well enough to earn a roster spot.

The Ravens originally acquired Zuttah in March 2014 from Tampa Bay in exchange for a fifth-round pick. He was expected to challenge for a spot as the starting center or provide veteran depth. Zuttah was beaten for a sack in the final preseason game against the Saints.

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Keenan Reynolds had been one of the feel-good stories of the Ravens training camp after a record-setting career as a quarterback at Navy. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2016 draft by the Ravens and was converted to a receiver and punt returner. As a rookie, Reynolds spent the first 15 games on the practice squad and was inactive for the finale.

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Reynolds appeared to make further strides in the offseason, but was behind Michael Campanaro on the depth chart. Reynolds did not help his cause by fumbling a punt in the final preseason game against New Orleans.

"The last two days have been pretty hectic that way," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. "Guys have been great. We have relationships. Those conversations are not fun. They are difficult, but they are honest. We have relationships. We have gone a long way with a lot of these guys. You have a real honest conversation about where they are going and that sort of thing. It has been really good that way as well."

The Ravens could still look to get him on their practice squad.

Roster notes

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Wide receiver Breshad Perriman was back at practice Saturday, which is a good sign for him playing in the regular-season opener Sept. 10 in Cincinnati. Perriman had been sidelined since Aug. 1 with a hamstring injury. Last year, he caught 33 passes for 499 yards with three touchdowns. Perriman missed his entire rookie season in 2015 with a knee injury.

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Running back Danny Woodhead returned to practice Saturday. He suffered a hamstring injury in the second preseason game against Miami and had been out since. It appears he will be available for the regular-season opener Sept. 10 in Cincinnati. Woodhead, 32, signed with the team as a free agent this offseason and he is expected to provide added versatility because of his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

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Cornerback Sheldon Price suffered a concussion against the Saints and had not been able to practice since suffering the injury. He was placed on injured reserve in 2016 with a hamstring injury. Despite the injury, Price did make the final roster.

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Cornerback Jaylen Hill has been out with a leg injury. However, the undrafted rookie from Jacksonville State has been one of the most impressive players throughout the preseason practices. Hill led the team with two interceptions in three preseason games and will likely be part of the rotation in the secondary.

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Running back Taquan Mizzell did not make the team after the Ravens decided to keep just three running backs and he was claimed off waivers by the Chicago Bears. Mizzell led the team in rushing during the preseason and was solid catching the ball out of the backfield. The Ravens would have liked to have kept Mizzell on the practice squad.

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Defensive tackle Carl Davis, a third-round pick in 2015, made the final roster on a deep defensive line. Davis came up with a key interception in the final preseason game against the Saints and has been solid throughout preseason camp. He spent 2016 on IR with an ankle injury.

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Quarterback Ryan Mallett struggled as the starter with Joe Flacco out with a back injury, but he will still be the primary backup. In the final preseason game, Mallett completed three of 18 passes for 19 yards with one touchdown. Over the four preseason games, Mallett threw for 248 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions (61.5 passer rating). Flacco and Mallett are the only quarterbacks on the final roster.

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Defensive lineman Patrick Ricard could see some opportunities on offense. The undrafted rookie has lined up at fullback and thrown some massive blocks. The Ravens cut their two other fullbacks -- Ricky Ortiz and Lorenzo Taliaferro -- trying to make the roster. Ricard also blocked a field goal in the final preseason game against the Saints. Ricard could be a key player for the Ravens this season.

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