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The Ravens lost left guard Ben Grubbs to the Saints in free agency last week, leaving a significant hole on the offensive line.
The Pro Bowl guard’s departure will hurt, but center Matt Birk said that’s part of the process teams have to go through in the offseason.
“I love Ben,” Birk said. “He’s a great man and a great player, and we’ll miss him. But that’s the way it is in the NFL and you have to find a way to move on.”
The Ravens have already started to move on – they reportedly offered a contract to Evan Mathis, but he decided to stay with the Eagles – and they’ve taken steps to bring back the other starters from the offensive line.
Birk signed a new three-year deal last week and the Ravens committed to left tackle Bryant McKinnie for another season by reportedly picking up his $500,000 roster bonus. With Birk and McKinnie returning, along with right guard Marshal Yanda and right tackle Michael Oher due back, the Ravens will retain four of their five starting linemen and Birk has high expectations for the group again next season.
He hopes the Ravens can build on an impressive 2011 campaign, where the line ranked as one of the NFL’s best. Baltimore was in the bottom third in sacks allowed (33) and also cleared the way for Ray Rice to collect a career-high 1,364 rushing yards.
“You can’t blink,” Birk said. “I know that’s our attitude on our team and we’re going to keep moving forward with our goals.”
The Ravens aren’t finished adding pieces to the line, as they need someone to fill Grubbs’ role and are also looking for depth at center. Birk knows he will be playing next to someone new this fall, but he’s grown accustomed to those kinds of adjustments throughout his 15-year career.
“For me it’s normal; it’s what I know,” Birk said. “Every year there are changes. Certainly some years the change is more than others.
“The Ravens are going to field a team next year and put us out there. And we’re going to work hard to do our best.”