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Robert Griffin III survives Ravens' final cut

Robert Griffin III survives Ravens' final cut

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The comeback of Robert Griffin III is complete: The quarterback will start the season with the Baltimore Ravens.

Griffin survived Baltimore's final cutdown Saturday and will join starter Joe Flacco and first-round pick Lamar Jackson on the depth chart. The Ravens have not carried three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster since 2009.

Griffin signed a one-year deal with the Ravens in April after sitting out the entire 2017 season. The five-year veteran served as the primary backup behind Flacco, but did not play in the finale Thursday against the Redskins, leaving open whether he would make the team.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Griffin's status would depend on "the math," which ultimately worked in the quarterback's favor.

"There's no doubt that you want Robert Griffin on your team," Harbaugh said after the final preseason game. "He makes our quarterback room better and stronger. He's a very good quarterback. He looks like a starter to me. He has been a starter. Certainly a backup in this league, without question. I mean, that's not even close. I would like to have him on the team, we'll just have to see how the math works."

Others were not so lucky.

The Ravens parted with receiver Breshad Perriman, the team's first-round pick in 2015. He managed just 43 catches for 576 yards and three touchdowns over 27 career games. It marked the first time in franchise history the Ravens cut a first-round pick before the end of his rookie contract.

Baltimore also waived tight end Darren Waller, who recently returned from a year-long suspension for violating the league's policy on performance enhancers.

Other notable cuts included offensive lineman Nico Siragusa, a fourth-round pick in 2017; linebacker Albert McClellan, an undrafted free agent who spent the past seven years with the team; defensive end Bronson Kaufusi, a third-round pick in 2016; and defensive tackle Carl Davis, a third-round selection in 2015 who started nine games last season.

Also Saturday, the Ravens placed kicker Kaare Vedvik on the reserve/non-football injury list.

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Another week, another question mark at quarterback for the Ravens

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Another week, another question mark at quarterback for the Ravens

Lamar Jackson has gone 3-1 since taking over for an injured Joe Flacco as the Ravens starting quarterback, with the lone loss coming in overtime against Super Bowl favorite Kansas City Chiefs.

The offense has been unstoppable on the ground and very hit-or-miss through the air (with more misses than hits). The defense has looked revitalized. The Ravens have dominated time of possession stats, even with Jackson’s fumbling issues.

On the surface it would seem like the Joe Flacco Era is over in Baltimore, as his month-long injury has given way to a new style of football in Baltimore.

That may not be the case, however.

CBS mentioned early in the broadcast Sunday that Flacco had been cleared this past week, and John Harbaugh confirmed it postgame. The only reason Flacco wasn’t active this week was a lack of preparation time; medically, he’s ready to return.

But are the Ravens ready to return to him?

Most fans are probably fully on board with Jackson moving forward. Winning three games and taking an elite team to overtime on the road in the fourth game have a tendency to win over observers. Harbaugh isn’t just a casual observer, however. He has to make the ultimate decision of what will give his team the best chance to keep winning in the next three weeks and make the postseason.

We expect much clarity early in the week. Harbaugh has played it close to the vest throughout the last four weeks. In the days leading up to each matchup, fans have speculated that Jackson will remain the starter, and in each scenario, the Ravens head coach has gone out of his way to avoid naming a starter until as late as possible.

It’s a smart ploy from Harbaugh, as Flacco and Jackson play such contrasting styles that keeping it a surprise is detrimental to the opposing defense.

Anecdotally, it seems like the Ravens employing a rush-heavy attack (they finished two yards shy of a fourth-straight 200-yard game on Sunday) has kept the defense rested into the 4th quarter of each game, which has helped them finish strong prior to the Chiefs game. And the offense, while not scoring as many points as it did under Flacco, isn’t too far behind and has managed to at least sustain drives at a much better rate.

Jackson has played well for an unproven rookie who was assumed to need plenty of development to be an impact quarterback, but that’s still a lot of qualifiers. Even against poor defenses, Jackson hasn’t exactly exploded. The Chiefs game was clearly his best passing performance, and still he was under 150 passing yards, though he did finally have a multi-TD outing.

It’s a unique scenario in which the option that gives the team a better chance to score (possibly Flacco) may not be the option that gives them a better chance to win. Not to mention the fact that Jackson is clearly the future of the Ravens, and playing against quality teams in the midst of a postseason stretch run can only aid his long-term development.

It’s a question without an answer, at least for the next week. But it’s definitely one on the minds of Ravens fans, players, and coaches alike as the franchise enters one of the most significant three-game stretches under John Harbaugh. If he comes up with the right answer, it will mean celebrating in Charm City and Harbaugh solidifying his future with the team. If not, then the Ravens may just barely miss out on yet another postseason, and every option will be on the table for owner Steve Bisciotti.

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RGIII plays the final minutes of Ravens' OT loss to Chiefs

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RGIII plays the final minutes of Ravens' OT loss to Chiefs

With the Baltimore Ravens needing to get in field goal position to stay alive in overtime against the Kansas City Chiefs, it wasn’t Joe Flacco or Lamar Jackson under center with the game on the line on third and 22. 

It was Robert Griffin, III. 

It was the second straight week Griffin has had to step in for relief for Jackson following an injury. A hit on Jackson by Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston sidelined the Ravens’ rookie, forcing Griffin to come in at a less-than-ideal time. 

Griffin had no time to work his way into a rhythm or pass time until Jackson potentially returned. His first pass attempt to John  Brown was nearly picked off and his second pass to Willie Snead was incomplete. Following the game, several Ravens players -- including Griffin -- felt Chiefs defensive back Kendall Fuller interfered with the play. 

Moving forward, the Ravens find themselves in a dilemma. If healthy, stick with the young Jackson who won three games in a row and was in the game against the class of the AFC, albeit limited in the passing game, give Griffin a shot who gives the team more options in the passing game or go back to the veteran Flacco for the stretch run of the playoffs. 

At 7-6, the Ravens are holding on to the final playoff spot by the slimmest of margins. Head coach John Harbaugh has an important decision to make before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to town next week. 
 

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