The Ravens made a series of roster moves to get their roster down to the limit of 53 players by the NFL deadline Friday night, and once the dust settled, linebacker Sergio Kindle still had a job with the defending AFC North champions.
Three years ago, Kindle suffered a fractured skull when he fell down two flights of stairs that caused permanent hearing loss in his left ear.
The former second-round draft pick missed his entire rookie season because of the injury, but managed to secure a roster spot last season.
Although Kindle had a quiet preseason this year and was prone to penalties, including a late hit on the quarterback during the Ravens' 31-17 loss to the St. Louis Rams on Thursday night, he survived the roster cutdown.
The former University of Texas star made the team again because the NFL's third-ranked defense from a year ago needs as many pass rushers as possible since Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs is out indefinitely with a partially torn right Achilles tendon.
The Ravens released 16 players and placed another six on injured reserve, and there were few, if any, surprises among the transactions.
The Ravens went with two quarterbacks — starter Joe Flacco and backup Tyrod Taylor — as they cut former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Curtis Painter. Painter, who lost all eight starts last season for the Colts, passed for 400 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions in the preseason.
The Ravens went with seven cornerbacks, including starters Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams as well as former first-round pick Jimmy Smith, Corey Graham, Danny Gorrer, Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson.
Gorrer is an underrated dime back, Brown figures into the equation on special teams as a gunner, and Jackson displayed explosiveness as a return man with a punt return for a touchdown that was nullified by a holding penalty.
And the Ravens kept six wide receivers on the active roster, including Thompson.
“I really, really like this football team,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We have a group of guys that really know how to work, a group of guys that are really very united. There is a strong bond in that locker room.”
The Ravens held on to three undrafted rookies, including kicker Justin Tucker, wide receiver Deonte Thompson and running back Bobby Rainey.
Tucker unseated former Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff.
Thompson flashed his speed as the former University of Florida player averaged 39.8 yards per kickoff return and catching 10 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
And Rainey, a versatile 5-foot-8 212-pounder, led the Ravens with 14 receptions for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
Harbaugh praised the undrafted rookie class supervised scout Joe Douglas and director of college scouting Joe Hortiz as one of the best he's seen.
"We were really happy with all the guys, just a tremendous group of guys," Harbaugh said. "Joe Douglas heads up the free agent part of our scouting, they did a great job. That was probably our best group as far as having a group in here, and I really think it helped our practices.
"Not just the fact that a number of those guys have a chance to make the team, and some have made the team for now, but also the fact that they gave us great practices. The better the practice, the more competition you have, the better team you become."
Behind their strength in preseason games, the Ravens kept defensive linemen DeAngelo Tyson, a seventh-round pick from Georgia, and Bryan Hall, a former practice squad player from Arkansas State.
Hall had four tackles, one for a loss against the Rams.
Tyson had a forced fumble and fumble recovery with one quarterback hit and a tackle for a loss against St. Louis.
The 6-foot, 291-pound Hall even lined up at middle linebacker against the Rams.
"They played well, they both did a very good job," Harbaugh said. "We had Bryan Hall play middle linebacker the whole second half. He is very versatile. He plays every position on the line.
"He plays a little bit on special teams. He could probably give you something on offense as a fullback or something, and now he has middle linebacker on his resume."
The most experienced player released was offensive guard Tony Wragge, who's entering his eighth NFL season.
The Ravens terminated Wragge's one-year, $850,000 contract. He was due a $25,000 roster bonus if he had been on the 53-man roster for the first game.
The Ravens also released former seventh-round pick running back Anthony Allen and placed running back Damien Berry on injured reserve with neck and shoulder injuries suffered against the Rams.
Berry is in the process of negotiating a potential injury settlement with the Ravens.
The Ravens also placed center-guard Justin Boren (foot) on injured reserve. He was carted off the field against the Rams.
Tight end Matt Balasavage (high-ankle sprain), linebacker Ricky Brown (concussion), tight end Bruce Figgins (shoulder) and sixth-round rookie wide receiver Tommy Streeter (sprained foot) were also put on injured reserve.
Streeter caught four passes for 52 yards and one touchdown, and the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder is regarded as an intriguing project who needs to polish his routes. A year in the weight room should also help him for the future.
The Ravens informed several players that they would ideally like to have them on the practice squad if they clear waivers.
That includes safety Omar Brown, who was released despite recovering three fumbles and intercepting one pass; middle linebacker Nigel Carr, the Ravens' leading tackler in the preseason; offensive tackle Jack Cornell; nose guard Ishmaa'ily Kitchen; outside linebacker Chavis Williams and linebacker Josh Bynes. Bynes has been sidelined with a cracked vertebra for the past month.
The Ravens' other cuts were wide receiver Dorian Graham, offensive lineman Cord Howard, nose guard Nicholas Jean-Baptiste, offensive guard Terrence Moore, wide receiver Logan Payne and safety Cyhl Quarles.
Harbaugh acknowledged that it's never easy to tell a player that he's not in the Ravens' plans.
"It's probably too much to even try to express here," Harbaugh said. "We all put ourselves in those shoes. The thing that I have learned now is that it's a huge responsibility, the way you frame that for the player, for the person. It's something that from experience we all know. We're going to take that with us for the rest of our life.
"I can remember word for word when I was told I wasn't going to play as much as I wanted to play in college and I was not going to be what I thought I wanted to be. Word for word, I remember what was said and will never forget it. As a coach, you try to remember that and take that responsibility very seriously because we have really good guys, guys who have poured their hearts and souls into trying to be a part of this."
The Ravens retained left offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, who regained his starting job after reporting to training camp overweight and five days late. McKinnie played his way into better shape and is now set to open the season with the first-team offense against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 10.
Offensive tackle Ramon Harewood made the team after remaining healthy for the first time since the Ravens drafted him in the sixth round out of Morehouse. He had spent two years on injured reserve previously.
Oft-injured offensive tackle Jah Reid, a former third-round draft pick who has aggravated his strained right calf twice since initially hurting his leg during a June minicamp and being carted off the practice field, remains on the active roster. Reid's leg has been getting better lately.
As expected, the Ravens kept three tight ends as Billy Bajema stays on the roster behind starter Ed Dickson and backup Dennis Pitta.
Bajema fills a role as a blocking presence as catching passes are Dickson and Pitta's strong suit.
And Harbaugh indicated that the roster might not be entirely set.
“It was tough,” Harbaugh said. “We will just have to see how it shakes out. You know, in this league, it's very fluid. Nothing is certain. Once you get past the first week, you go to the second week and you see where we're at.”
Here's a quick look at the list of players who were waived, the majority of which were previously reported by The Baltimore Sun.
Running back Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech
Safety Omar Brown, Marshall
Linebacker Josh Bynes, Auburn
Linebacker Nigel Carr, Alabama State
Offensive tackle Jack Cornell, Illinois
Wide receiver Dorian Graham, Syracuse
Guard-tackle Cord Howard, Georgia Tech
Nose guard Nicholas Jean-Baptiste, Baylor
Nose guard Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, Kent State
Guard Antoine McClain, Clemson
Defensive end Terrence Moore, Nebraska
Quarterback Curtis Painter, Purdue
Wide receiver Logan Payne, Minnesota
Safety Cyhl Quarles, Wake Forest
Outside linebacker Chavis Williams, Alabama
Guard Tony Wragge, New Mexico
The Ravens placed the following players on injured reserve:
Tight end Matt Balasavage (ankle)
Running back Damien Berry (back)
Center-guard Justin Boren (foot)
Linebacker Ricky Brown (concussion)
Tight end Bruce Figgins (shoulder)
Wide receiver Tommy Streeter (sprained foot)Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times