First round of cuts be­gins

Team parts ways with nine play­ers, places Wat­son, Ar­ring­ton on IR

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Jeff Zre­biec

In his room at the Win­gate Ho­tel near the Green Bay Pack­ers train­ing fa­cil­ity, An­thony Levine was de­ter­mined not to an­swer the phone. His cell­phone buzzed and when Levine no­ticed the lo­cal 920 area code, he de­clined the call. The ho­tel phone in his room then rang, but in­stead of an­swer­ing it, Levine ex­cused him­self and went to the bath­room.

His room­mate an­swered and re­layed the news that Levine was try­ing to avoid. The Pack­ers wanted to meet with him. In the Pack­ers train­ing camp as an un­drafted f reeagent de­fen­sive back in 2010, Levine doesn’t have fond mem­o­ries of his first time be­ing cut. Or his sec­ond time.

Levine failed to make the Pack­ers’ reg­u­lar-sea­son open­ing ros­ter in each of his first two sea­sons, land­ing on the Pre­sea­son fi­nale Thurs­day, 8 p.m. TV: Chs. 11, 7, Com­cast Sport­sNet Ra­dio: 97.9 FM, 1090 AM

prac­tice squad each time be­fore find­ing a home with the Ravens late in 2012.

He’s now pretty safe on days such as Mon­day, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing he has made huge plays this pre­sea­son. But Levine still feels for those who are ros­ter ca­su­al­ties.

“It’s very tough,” Levine said. “I saw some guys this morn­ing. It was sad. I was telling C.J. [Mosley] and Zach [Orr] dur­ing warm-ups. I was like, ‘It was tough see­ing those guys walk out to­day.’ But it’s a busi­ness. You know what it is.”

NFL teams are re­quired to cut their ros­ter from 90 to 75 by 4 p.m. to­day, leav­ing more than 400 play­ers league-wide look­ing for work. The ros­ters will then have to be trimmed from 75 to 53 by 4 p.m. Sat­ur­day, two days af­ter ev­ery team plays its pre­sea­son fi­nale.

The Ravens got into the act Mon­day by cut­ting their ros­ter from 90 to 79. None of their moves were con­sid­ered sur­prises.

They placed tight end Ben­jamin Wat­son (Achilles) and cor­ner­back Kyle Ar­ring­ton (con­cus­sion) on in­jured re­serve and parted ways with nine play­ers. Vet­eran in­side line­backer Kavell Con­ner’s con­tract was ter­mi­nated. The Ravens also waived quar­ter­back Jer­rod John­son, wide re­ceivers Chuck Ja­cobs, Dar­ius White and Dob­son Collins, of­fen­sive line­men Jarell Brox­ton and An­thony Fabi­ano, out­side line­backer Mario Oje­mu­dia and de­fen­sive tackle Trevon Co­ley.

The Ravens have four more moves to make be­fore to­day’s dead­line, and com­pli­cat­ing mat­ters is that coach John Har­baugh wants as many healthy bod­ies as pos­si­ble head­ing into Thurs­day night’s pre­sea­son fi­nale against the New Or­leans Saints. Har­baugh tra­di­tion­ally doesn’t play his starters, or even some key back­ups, in the fourth and fi­nal pre­sea­son game, and this year will be no dif­fer­ent.

“You have to fac­tor in what you think a guy is go­ing to be and what a guy has done,” Har­baugh said. “That’s not a per­fect sci­ence — and cer­tainly, how much we’re go­ing to play guys. We need to get through this game. We need to have more guys out there that can play in the game. We also want to keep guys as healthy as we can. That’s the bal­anc­ing act.”

Rookie de­fen­sive end Bron­son Kau­fusi, who broke his an­kle early in camp, and safety Matt Elam, who had arthro­scopic knee in­jury and is ex­pected to be side­lined for a while, can be placed on in­jured re­serve. The Ravens also could move run­ning back Lorenzo Tali­a­ferro, who hasn’t prac­ticed all train­ing camp as he con­tin­ues his re­cov­ery from foot surgery, to the reg­u­lar-sea­son phys­i­cally-un­able-top­er­form list.

Mak­ing those moves to­day would let the Ravens keep a few ex­tra healthy play­ers for the Saints game. How­ever, Har­baugh un­der­stands the dif­fi­culty of the de­ci­sions his staff will have to make af­ter the game.

“We build re­la­tion­ships here,” he said. “We told the team, ‘ One thing that’s im­por­tant in our or­ga­ni­za­tion … is any­body Quar­ter­back Jer­rod John­son was one of the nine play­ers the Ravens waived on Mon­day. They must cut four more play­ers by 4 p.m. to­day. who comes here and is a part of us as a player, coach and em­ployee, should feel like they’re a part of the Ravens fam­ily.’ That’s how we do it. That starts with our owner, Steve Bis­ciotti. That’s what we all be­lieve in, and so when a re­la­tion­ship changes for a player who is not go­ing to be here at the end of the day, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt a lit­tle bit for ev­ery­body. It just makes you grate­ful for the chance to keep go­ing.”

Wat­son, the vet­eran tight end whosigned a two-year deal with the team this off­sea­son, tore his right Achilles ten­don in Sat­ur­day’s 30-9 vic­tory over the Detroit Lions. Wat­son hasn’t missed more than four games in any sea­son since his rookie year in 2004. Now he’ll be out the en­tire year and faces a long re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion process.

Ar­ring­ton was put on IR as he con­tin­ues to strug­gle with a con­cus­sion sus­tained in the pre­sea­son opener against the Car­olina Pan­thers. Har­baugh said he isn’t sure whether the 30-year-old cor­ner­back will con­tinue to play when he gets healthy.

“I don’t know the de­tails of the con­cus­sion pro­to­cols or what the tests were or any­thing like that, but Kyle has had a tremen­dous ca­reer,” Har­baugh said. “What he de­cides to do go­ing for­ward, I think, will be based on if he wants to move for­ward or just move on to the rest of the life with his fam­ily. Those are de­ci­sions the guys make, and Kyle will make the right de­ci­sion. I have so much re­spect for him as a player and as a per­son. He’s a fam­ily man. He’s one of the best peo­ple you get a chance to meet in this league. We’ll see where that goes. I think that’s a de­ci­sion that is part player de­ci­sion, too, along with the doc­tors. I don’t know how they came to it. I wasn’t in­volved in that, but I can un­der­stand it.”

Levine, too, un­der­stands how dif­fi­cult this week will be for some of his team­mates. He said he spoke to a cou­ple of play­ers who were let go Mon­day and he told them to “keep work­ing, keep God first and ev­ery­thing will be all right.” It’s cer­tainly worked out for Levine, who has been one of the Ravens’ core spe­cial teams play­ers for the past three sea­sons and could see an ex­panded role on de­fense this year.

“The sec­ond year when I got [cut], that was even tougher be­cause I just had my son,” Levine said. “I was like, ‘Man, what am I go­ing to do now? I have a fam­ily.’ Then the Ravens gave mea call, and I’ve been at home ever since.”

KARL MER­TON FERRON/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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