Ravens’ Starting O-Line Could Finish Preseason

The Ravens’ projected first unit is finally together. Will it play in Atlanta?

Posted by Mike Duffy on Sunday, August 28th, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Categories: Mike Duffy

Saturday’s practice marked the first time the Ravens’ projected starting offensive line worked together – 15 days before Baltimore’s regular-season opener.

To this point, the Ravens have not yet had that line play in a game.
 
And even though the fourth preseason game is one where the first team usually sits, the Ravens are preparing to get their starters some live action.
 
It’s an issue the Ravens’ coaches are discussing in light of Thursday’s matchup with the Atlanta Falcons.
 
“We have already talked about that as a staff and I will let Coach [John] Harbaugh address that specifically, but we’re preparing to get guys ready to play on Thursday,” Offensive Line Coach Andy Moeller said Saturday.  “How much they play? We really haven’t determined that.”
 
In last week’s 34-31 win over the Washington Redskins, the Ravens had only one starter – left guard Ben Grubbs – playing the position he will man this season.  In the meantime, the Ravens have surrendered 11 sacks during the preseason.
 
Left tackle Michael Oher is going to switch to the right side, while the Ravens recently brought in Bryant McKinnie to protect Joe Flacco’s blind side.
 
Right guard Marshal Yanda only just returned to practice this weekend after missing time because of back spasms, and the Ravens haven’t had the services of center Matt Birk due to knee surgery in early August.
 
Harbaugh said he is mulling the pros and cons of playing his starters an extended amount of time.  On one hand, the live reps would build chemistry.  On the other, there is always the risk of injury.

“I have both feelings,” Harbaugh said.  “I’d like to see them play the whole game, but I’d like to see them healthy in the opener as well. There’s the dilemma.” 
 
The 6-foot-8, 370-pound McKinnie is probably the biggest wild card, as each other projected starter has played together before.
McKinnie admitted that he will need to maximize every practice this week before he feels comfortable with his new role, but a familiarity with the Ravens’ offense will help.

“It will probably take me a few days – about three or four days – just to get the communication together. Playing with my new guard and everything. From there we will just progress and get better,” said McKinnie. 
 
“Luckily, I have been around for a little of this [system]. When I was with Coach [former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike] Tice, offense was kind of similar so it is kind of easier for me to get acclimated.”

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