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Offensive Line Could Get Shuffled

Posted Oct 22, 2012

John Harbaugh may give more opportunities to younger players and rotate players more often.

The offensive line has been in flux since training camp, and it looks like the movement is likely to continue.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said on Monday that more changes could be in store.

"Yeah, that’s a possibility,” Harbaugh said when asked if he would consider making personnel changes. "I think on our offensive line, we’re just trying to find a good mix.”

The offensive line has produced mixed results during the season, and Harbaugh said the group is a "work in progress.” The Ravens have allowed 18 sacks on the season, which is tied for the fifth most in the NFL.

The line specifically struggled in Sunday’s loss to the Texans, giving up two sacks, three quarterback hits and nine hurries, which could be part of the reason for change.

The left guard position has gone through the most changes, as third-year player Ramon Harewood started for the first time in his career for five games, but veteran Bobbie Williams started the last two weeks.

Harbaugh did not get into specifics about where the changes might come, but did indicate they want to get more young players on the field.

"We’re not benching guys and putting other guys in there and all that kind of stuff,” Harbaugh said. "To me, that wouldn’t be a fair description of what we’re doing.

"I would guess we’re going to roll some guys in there and see how they do. Let’s take a look at some young guys, and see how they do. Let’s keep the veterans available and let them play a little bit.

The young players that the Ravens have available, but haven’t played recently are Harewood, second-year tackle/guard Jah Reid and rookie center/guard Gino Gradkowski. Rookie Kelechi Osemele has already started every game at right tackle.

Reid is just getting healthy again after a calf injury held him out of practice for most of training camp and the start of the season. He wasn’t listed on the injury report last week, meaning he was a full participant in practice, but the Ravens still didn’t activate him against the Texans.

Gradkowski has been active for every game, but has yet to see time on offense. He is regarded as the heir apparent to veteran center Matt Birk, but he could also challenge for time at left guard.

"Gino has been active every game, so he’s in the mix as a backup guard,” Harbaugh said. "I really think he’s ready to play if his opportunity comes.”

The Ravens have tried to nail down a clear-cut starting five along the line since training camp, but they have yet to do so and Harbaugh indicated they may try a committee approach to filling some of the spots.

"We’d like to have five guys who are rock solid and who are in there and working with everybody all the time. It’s really just not where we’re at right now,” Harbaugh said. "So let’s make the best of it and let’s work some guys in there. If we get hot with a group, then we’ll stick with it.”

Some teams, like the Texans, rotate players in and out of the line throughout the game. Against the Ravens, the Texans split snaps between four players at right tackle and right guard, and Harbaugh said the Ravens could try a similar approach.

"We’re just not sure what the best situation is going to be, and it might be rolling some guys in,” he said. "Houston does that. A lot of teams do that, so we could do that, too."

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