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Ever since Baltimore’s inception in 1996, the Ravens’ first round pick has started at least one game.
Last year, Michael Oher immediately took over at right tackle. The year before, quarterback Joe Flacco was under center from the start.
Seven games into this season, however, no Ravens rookie has yet to notch a start and most have made their biggest impact on special teams.
The Class of 2010 didn’t have a first-round pick, but the larger reason why there isn’t yet a starter is because of overall depth on Baltimore’s roster – which has allowed the Ravens to ease in their rookies.
On Monday, Head Coach John Harbaugh was asked to evaluate his rookie class.
“I think they’re developing,” he said. “When you have a really good football team like we have, you’re probably not going to get as much out of your rookie class as some other teams are, and that’s a good thing. I think that’s a good problem to have.”
The Ravens’ first pick in the draft, outside linebacker Sergio Kindle, is out for the year with a non-football injury. That means defensive tackle Terrence Cody stands as the team’s highest pick on the field.
Cody has four games and one tackle under his belt, stepping in to spell veteran Kelly Gregg. Harbaugh said Cody needs to work on two things, his pad level and shedding blocks more quickly so he can make more plays between the tackles. He said the rookie has “all the ability in the world.”
Linebacker Ray Lewis has taken notice as well.
“Cody, ‘Big T.C.’… That’s the big baby of the bunch right now that has all the gifts,” Lewis said. “We’ve just got to start turning him loose a little bit, have fun with him.
“And, he’s really settling in already, which is a good thing. Nine times of out 10, when any player that has that type of talent starts to settle in, the next thing that comes, he starts to build confidence and confidence and confidence.”
Third-round tight end Ed Dickson may have made the biggest impact outside of special teams thus far. He has the Ravens’ longest reception of the season, a 58-yarder in which he drug Broncos safety Brian Dawkins about 10 yards. He’s also made key blocks on touchdown runs.
Fellow tight end Dennis Pitta has been active in all but one game as well as fifth-round wide receiver David Reed, who is second on the team with five special teams tackles.
“David Reed has had a big impact on special teams,” Harbaugh said. “I think his impact will only grow on offense.”
Rounding out the list, fifth-round defensive tackle Arthur Jones has been inactive for all seven games thus far and sixth-round tackle Ramon Harewood is on Injured Reserve.