COMMENTARY | Kickoff in Denver for the Baltimore Ravens is just nine days away, and the only thing that separates the team from now and next Thursday is one more preseason game and a few more sets of roster cuts.
Baltimore's last dress rehearsal will be on Thursday night in St. Louis when the starters are expected to play one or two series at most, with some not even suiting up. That gives plenty of players buried on the depth chart one more chance to make a positive impression for the Baltimore coaching staff that could lead to a roster spot.
Here are some players who have either recently seen their stock go up or down:
At the beginning of training camp, Matt Furstenburg -- an undrafted rookie tight end from Maryland -- appeared to have a slim chance at best to make the team. But through the struggles of others, particularly Dennis Pitta's injury and Visanthe Shiancoe's recent release, Furstenburg now has an inside track to make the team.
He has struggled as a run blocker during the preseason, but his ability as a pass catcher may be what earns him a roster spot. His value in the passing game may outweigh Billy Bajema's value as a run blocker, and Furstenburg would have an inherent role in the offense this season if he makes the team.
At the very least, he has become an obvious choice for the practice squad.
One of the biggest question marks heading into training camp was whether or not the Ravens would be able to replace Ray Lewis in the middle of Baltimore's defense.
So far, the Ravens have had no issues finding someone to fulfill that role, as veteran linebacker Daryl Smith has stepped in right away and asserted himself as Baltimore's head man of the front seven. He has been Baltimore's most consistent defender during the preseason, and it would be a surprise if he doesn't lead the team in tackles this season.
In Baltimore's competition at wide receiver, no player has consistently disappointed like Tandon Doss has during training camp. Once considered a candidate to become Baltimore's primary slot receiver -- a job now locked up by Brandon Stokley -- Doss is in danger of not even making the roster. His issues with catching the ball have continued during training camp and the preseason, and that could ultimately lead to him being on the outside looking in of Baltimore's final roster.
His highly publicized inability to read a blitz on a route last week against Carolina certainly doesn't help his case, either.
Another week has passed and Matt Elam -- selected by the Ravens in the first round of April's draft -- still hasn't beaten out James Ihedigbo for the starting strong safety job. At this point, it appears that Elam won't win the starting job before the regular season begins, and the two will likely split time at the position when the Ravens take on the Denver Broncos.
For a first-round pick, that's a less than ideal scenario. Elam's inability to win the job likely stems from his deficiencies in pass defense, which has led to him having a rather basic role when on the field during the preseason.
Against Carolina, Elam was mainly playing deep in a one-deep safety look, essentially being given the "don't let anyone past you" role, something that usually isn't given to a player selected as high as Elam was.
Kyle Casey is a sports writer living in Baltimore, Md. He contributes to various football sites and is the editor of Cat Crave.
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