Heading into this offseason, the big question surrounding the offense was the left tackle position and who would protect Joe Flacco’s blind side. The Baltimore Ravens found a way to answer those questions by resigning Bryant McKinnie who was a huge part of their Super Bowl run, but is their depth now capable of handling a big injury.
It has gone overlooked for the most part, but the Ravens offensive line looks great as a starting five. On the flip side, this 2013 offensive line may be one or two injuries away from being in serious trouble.
At the end of the Ravens’ mandatory mini-camp, the starting five seems pretty set, with the exception being at center (although it is Gino Gradkowski’s job to lose). Baltimore will have McKinnie at left tackle, Kelechi Osemele at left guard, Gradkowski at center, All Pro Marshal Yanda at right guard and Michael Oher at right tackle.
Again that sounds like a very formidable offensive line, but what happens if one or two of those guys go down due to injury?
Behind the starting five, the Ravens do have a decent backup in Jah Reid who can play multiple positions on the line and at center the newly acquired A.Q. Shipley would be the obvious backup there, but after those two guys the crop is pretty low. An even bigger question mark would be if two guys go down and one of them is not a center, who would fill in because it would be a stretch to ask Shipley to play guard or tackle.
After the seven aforementioned guys, the Ravens begin to seriously lack depth. Ramon Harewood is one of the first names to come to mind, but let's remember this guy was a starter at the beginning of the year and quickly lost that job and was only active one time after week five due to his lack of production.
Another pair of names that come up are fifth round selection Rick Wagner and sixth round selection Ryan Jensen. Obviously the Ravens like these two or they would not have drafted them, but can Baltimore honestly depend on two guys to provide legitimate depth in their first years? Jensen is a center by trade, so unless both Shipley and Gradkowski go down, or struggle mightily, we will not see Ryan this season. Wagner has been practicing mostly at tackle during mini-camps and has a legitimate shot at making the squad, but would be a serious downgrade (right now) if he were to need to play.
For those of you looking for a sleeper that could come out of no where to impress and earn a spot on the active roster, look no further than David Mims. Baltimore signed Mims to a future-reserve contract in January and was on the Kansas City Chiefs' active roster for five games last season as a rookie. The Chiefs offensive line helps produce one of the most potent rushing attacks in the NFL and Mims size (6'8'' 320 pounds) makes him a legitimate threat to crack the roster.
Bottom line is that Baltimore will have to depend on some guys who do not have much experience in the NFL as backup players and hope that their offensive line does not take a beating by the injury bug, or Flacco and the offense could be in trouble.
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