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Who's In Bubble Trouble?

August 15, 2006

By Joe Platania, PressBox Staff

The NFL-mandated first cut deadline to get down to 75 players isn't until Tuesday, Aug. 29. Even though teams can cut players at any time before then, most coaching staffs are trying to see as much as they can from their young players and newcomers at training camp and the first two preseason games before deciding which hopefuls will go on the chopping block.

The Ravens are no different. With 85 players on the roster, there are critical decisions to be made at certain positions.

Here are the four players who could provide dilemmas for the coaching staff:

Once thought of as a cinch at the third or fourth wide receiver spot (especially with the lingering hernia injury to Clarence Moore), Darling is finding himself pushed by the steady Travis LaTendresse, the special teams presence of Tres Moses, the athleticism of Romby Bryant and the spectacular Demetrius Williams.

However, there have been some drills in which Darling has been running with the first unit and partnered with Derrick Mason, thanks to Mark Clayton's hamstring troubles.

The long-range field-goal kicker and kickoff specialist could be displaced by the overall versatility of sixth-round pick Sam Koch, who can punt, hold and kick off. If Koch beats out Elling, the Ravens would just have to live with Matt Stover's diminished range, even though the 17-year man has hit a few 50-yarders in camp.

Working in Elling's favor is the fact that veteran punter Leo Araguz is still thought of as the first-team punter by the coaching staff.

Before you ask; no, he's not on this list because of his off-season stab wound suffered at a local bowling alley. It's just that he is one of six hybrid "tweeners" on the roster, and the team is already counting on Dan Cody, Terrell Suggs and Adalius Thomas to be big parts of the puzzle this year.

However, Green has made lots of plays in camp and could save his spot with special teams coverage presence, one of the Ravens’ definite weaknesses in recent years.

A solid, hard-working veteran who nonetheless hasn't played much in his time in Baltimore and Pittsburgh, St. Pierre is part of an interesting quandary: do the Ravens go with an experienced third quarterback in him or go cheaper with UCLA undrafted product Drew Olson? Don't forget that this organization's mantra has always been "Right player, right price."

Plus, St. Pierre is a third-year man, too old for the practice squad. As a rookie, Olson has plenty of eligibility remaining for that status.

Photos: Copyright NFL/Getty Images

Issue 1.17: August 17, 2006