Slim window for Ravens' undrafted rookies

OWINGS MILLS – The reality of the Baltimore Ravens' veteran-laden roster means that only a few rookies beyond the top draft picks will probably make the final roster. One year after undrafted return specialist B.J. Sams' inspired rookie camp showing showing eventually created a touchdown-scoring niche, Ravens coach Brian Billick said that essentially 50 of the 53 roster spots have already been decided.

That means long odds for undrafted players as well as the later-round draft picks, but the Ravens still hope to discover another undrafted gem as they conclude a two-day rookie minicamp today at their training complex.

"The main thing for them is to not limit themselves, to not think it's an uphill battle," Billick said. "I keep telling them, ‘Don't worry, when it comes time, I'll cut you. Don't cut yourself.'"

Some of the rookies have the advantage of familiarity with their surroundings such as former Maryland tight end Rob Abiamiri, a Randallstown native who graduated from Mount St. Joseph, former Maryland receiver Curtis Williams and Morgan State wideout Tommy Manus.

"I really just want to earn the right to be on this team," Abiamiri said. "It feels good that I have a lot of fans around here who supported me and that I'm comfortable with the town and know the area."

THE LIST: The Ravens' 17 undrafted free agent signees also includes: Louisiana Tech offensive lineman Lester Brown, Houston defensive tackle Joe Clay, Albany State defensive end Walter Curry, North Carolina quarterback Darian Durant, Rutgers defensive lineman Gary Gibson, Colorado State defensive end Patrick Goodpaster, Houston offensive lineman Phil Hawkins, Rutgers safety Jarvis Johnson, Wisconsin long snapper Matt Katula, Oregon offensive lineman Robin Knebel, Minnesota kicker Rhys Lloyd, Louisiana-Monroe cornerback Cash Mouton, Illinois linebacker Matt Sinclair and Iowa State linebacker Tyson Smith.

Durant, a mobile scrambler who holds the Tar Heels' all-time records for completion percentage (.605), touchdowns (68), passing yards (8,755) and total offense (9,630 yards), is aware of why he wasn't drafted.

He's 5-foot-11 and 221 pounds.

"There's not that many quarterback coming out of college that accomplished what I did," said Durant, who will compete with sixth-round quarterback Derek Anderson for the third quarterback spot. "I feel my height is the major thing that held me back. Hopefully, the coaches will like my style of play and I'm willing to play any position."

EXTRAS: The numbers for the workouts were bolstered by the presence of a few lightly-experienced veterans, including: running back Lester Burnell, defensive back Calvin Carlyle, center Drew Caylor, punter Jesse Ohliger, running back Tellis Redmon and receiver Fred Stamps

ON THE MEND: Special teams coordinator Gary Zauner got around the Ravens' indoor practice field in a special motorized cart after recently undergoing knee surgery.

"If that doesn't show up on the news tonight, I'm done, no more news conferences if that doesn't show up on TV tonight," Billick quipped.

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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