Ravens cut Parker, sign tackle, kicker

OWINGS MILLS -- The Baltimore Ravens cut big defensive tackle J'Vonne Parker, signing defensive tackle Lamar Divens and kicker Steve Haushcka to the active roster Sunday while adding quarterback Casey Bramlet and the NFL's leading preseason rusher to the practice squad.

In addition to signing Bramlet and striking a verbal agreement with former Washington Redskins running back Marcus Mason, the Ravens signed wide receivers Justin Harper and Ernie Wheelwright and offensive tackle Joe Reitz to the practice squad.

Now, the Ravens have 53 players on the roster with three remaining openings for an eight-man practice squad.

A former Georgetown Prep star, Mason led all NFL running backs with 317 yards on 66 carries this preseason prior to being cut Saturday. He received offers to sign with several practice squads, including the Redskins, but picked the Ravens because of their thin running back situation.

Rookie second-round pick Ray Rice is the lone healthy pure running back on the roster as starter Willis McGahee is still recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

"We're excited that Marcus is going to be signing with the Ravens," said Chad Wiestling, Mason's agent. "It's a great opportunity for him because of their numbers situation and it's a great organization. Marcus had an outstanding preseason and he's looking forward to getting to work in Baltimore."

The 5-foot-9, 218 pound former Youngstown State standout is the all-time leading rusher in Maryland high school history with 5,700 yards. After transferring from Illinois, Mason rushed for 1,847 yards and scored 23 touchdowns as a senior.

Despite averaging 4.8 yards per carry, Mason ranked below experienced NFL backs Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright on the depth chart.

"He's got enough talent to play in the NFL," Portis told Washington reporters Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Ravens added size upfront with Divens, a 6-3, 333-pound undrafted rookie from Tennessee State who was recently cut by the San Diego Chargers, and a potential kickoff specialist in Hauschka.

Hauschka is an undrafted free agent from North Carolina State who converted all four of his field goal attempts with the Minnesota Vikings before being cut.

Signed off waivers last week, Bramlet completed 7 of 21 passes for 100 yards and two interceptions in a 10-9 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Harper is a seventh-round pick from Virginia Tech and Wheelwright is an undrafted free agent from Minnesota.

Reitz is a 6-foot-7, 270-pound former Western Michigan basketball standout who turned down chances to play professionally in Europe to sign with Baltimore this spring.

The Fishers, Ind., native hadn't played football since high school, but has impressed the coaching staff with his athleticism and is regarded as a promising long-term project. Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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