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Could Young Offensive Linemen Be Starters?

Posted Jan 14, 2014

Tackle Rick Wagner and center Ryan Jensen spent a year developing as rookies.


There’s a lot of talk in Baltimore about shuffling the offensive line and bringing in new blood.

But could the answer already be on the roster?

The Ravens groomed two rookie offensive linemen last year: tackle Rick Wagner and center Ryan Jensen. They were late-round draft picks, but Head Coach John Harbaugh believes they have a shot at being impact players next season.

“You don’t know about these guys – developmental guys – between Ryan and Rick,” Harbaugh said. “These guys are potential starters in this league. They could be starting for us next year if they earn the job.”

Juan Castillo, who is widely-regarded as an excellent teacher with young offensive linemen, worked with Wagner and Jensen a lot last year as the run game coordinator. Wagner also got valuable game reps.

Wagner got 131 total snaps, and finished with a positive 2.5 run blocking grade from Pro Football Focus (PFF). He had a negative 2.1 pass blocking grade, but didn’t have a single negative grade after a rough outing in Denver, where he was thrown into the fire in his first game when Michael Oher went down.

Other than Denver, Wagner saw almost all of his action while being used in jumbo packages as an extra blocker. He showed good athleticism pulling around the edges and physicality to finish blocks.

The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Wagner could play either left or right tackle. He was a three-year starter at Wisconsin (37 starts at left tackle and 10 at right tackle), and was named to the first-team All-Big Ten as a senior in 2012.

Jensen didn’t see a single snap in 2013, partly because a training camp foot injury set him back and because the Ravens had enough depth on the interior offensive line.

However, the Ravens kept Jensen on the active roster all year in order to give him the opportunity to practice with the team. Had they placed him on injured reserve, Jensen wouldn’t have been able to practice.

General Manager Ozzie Newsome said it’s imperative that the Ravens get bigger on the interior of their offensive line. Jensen is 6-foot-3, 304 pounds, about the same size as Gino Gradkowski (6-3, 300).

The Ravens are hoping that the work Wagner and Jensen put in as rookies will pay off in 2014.

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