We knew this day was coming at some point, but Steve Smith Sr. finally announced that this would be his final season as a professional. The 36 year old receiver has played in the NFL for 14 seasons leading into this upcoming campaign, and is only 638 yards away from passing former Viking great Cris Carter for 10th all time on the NFL Receiving Yards list. He’s been a great role model for a team that was needing one after the departure of Anquan Boldin, and he’ll look to go out on top this season, as the Ravens are top contenders for the AFC crown and maybe even a Super Bowl run.
Speaking of the Ravens, they have their first Preseason game coming up this Thursday night in M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, hosting the New Orleans Saints. The Ravens are typically stacked with depth, thanks to their superb General Manager Ozzie Newsome; this season is no different. Often times Baltimore is heavily scouted throughout the preseason, as they know that often times most of their preseason cuts are good enough to play elsewhere, just not in Baltimore. This preseason is no different, and here are a few players to watch this week, that could both make the team in Baltimore, or on another roster this season:
- Darren Waller, WR #12 Georgia Tech 6’6″ 240
The rookie from the option offense at Tech was a 6th round selection last May, and is an intriguing prospect. A Height-Weight-Speed freak of an athlete, Waller is an imposing figure on the outside with deceptive speed and athleticism for a player of his size. He can be a real red-zone threat, but likely won’t make the roster in Baltimore. He will be a candidate for the practice squad or make another roster.
- Javorious “Buck” Allen, RB #37 USC 6’0″ 220
The rookie from Southern Cal was a victim of the ultra deep draft class this offseason, but he may have landed in an ideal situation. Learning from a veteran in Justin Forsett, Allen has little pressure to contribute immediately. A build-up runner who should succeed in Marc Trestman’s zone blocking scheme, Allen is also a nice receiver out of the backfield. This should be a nice opportunity for Allen to get some experience.
- De’Ondre Wesley, OT #77 BYU 6’7″ 330
The big man from Brigham Young was an overlooked blocker throughout the draft process, but Wesley has one thing that can’t be taught, size. And a lot of it. Wesley has the prototypical size for an NFL Offensive Lineman, and is another example of a player who may not make the roster for the Ravens, but may be auditioning for a job elsewhere. A roadgrader in the run game, he’s surprisingly passable in pass pro.
- Carl Davis, DL #94 Iowa 6’5″ 320
Davis, a 3rd rounder from America’s heartland, has stated that he was insulted to not be drafted until the 3rd round by Baltimore. A man with awesome size and impressive athleticism for a man of his physical attributes, Davis has been getting rave reviews throughout camp thus far. He’ll be a rotational D-Lineman this season, but could start down the line.
- Za’Darius Smith, OLB #90 Kentucky 6’5″ 275
The other pass rusher at Kentucky, Smith was often overlooked for his teammate Bud Dupree, but Smith possesses an interesting skill set himself. Expected to fill the role of the departed Pernell McPhee, Smith will be a sub-package rusher both from the interior and exterior, and with his hand in the ground and standing. Smith, a former basketball player at Kentucky, will use his versatility to get onto the field.
- Nick Perry, S #36 Alabama 6’1″ 211
Despite playing with other big names at safety like HaHa Clinton-Dix, Mark Barron and Vinnie Sunseri while with the Crimson Tide, Perry mixes a nice combination of size and instincts to make a difference on the field. This is another case of Baltimore having a lot of depth in the secondary, so he may also be playing as an audition to get a job elsewhere.