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Jeremy Zuttah Is Back, Gives His Take On Ravens' Younger Offensive Linemen


Jeremy Zuttah was ticked off during Tuesday's practice. He felt somebody on the defensive line had jumped offside, but the Ravens offense was backed up 5 yards because of a false start.

It was an Organized Team Activities (OTAs) practice, but the Ravens center is already in mid-season form when it comes to competing.

Zuttah is happy just to be back on the field. He hadn't missed a start since 2011 (65 straight starts), but went down last season with a shoulder injury, knocking him out of the final seven games.

"It was a while – longest I've ever been probably without playing football," Zuttah said. "So [I'm] getting back out there, trying to knock the dust off. I feel good and am on my way back."

Zuttah said his surgically repaired shoulder has already been healed for two or three months. At this point, he's working to get all the strength back in it.

In addition to spending a lot of time in the weight room, Zuttah spent OTAs getting on the same page with a younger cast of offensive linemen.

The man directly to his left, Kelechi Osemele, departed for Oakland in free agency. That has left John Urschel as the first-team guard in practice with Ryan Jensen and rookie fourth-round pick Alex Lewis also getting reps. Left tackle has been manned by first-round pick Ronnie Stanley.

The Ravens had every 2014 offensive line starter return in 2015. This year, there could be two new starters on the left side.

"We have a talented group," Zuttah said. "Even without Marshal [Yanda] here, you can see that at every position we have talent. It's just about being able to put it all together."

Osemele's exit is a blow to the line because he was a big, mean, mauler on the field. Osemele brought a punishing presence to Baltimore's trenches.

"Obviously, we lost a great player up front," Zuttah said. "It's going to be a little bit of a void, and everybody is going to have to kind of step up to replace it. It's not going to be one guy to take up all that slack."

That said, Zuttah said the Ravens have the talent to replace Osemele. He first pointed to Urschel, who has played in a lot of big games the past two years. While not as hulking as Osemele, Urschel is a very smart player with quickness and strength.

Zuttah also said the 6-foot-6, 315-pound Lewis is "as well put together as anybody else I've seen at that position. As long as he can pick it up mentally, he can be a guy that does it, too."

And Zuttah's take on Stanley?

"Stanley is good," the eight-year veteran said. "He's a very natural athlete; you can see it out there. As soon as he gets to the point where he doesn't have to think about anything, he's going to take it to the next level and just keep progressing."

After a standout year running the ball in 2014, Baltimore dropped to 24th in the NFL in rushing yards per attempt (3.9) and 26th in rushing yards per game (92.4) last season. This season, the Ravens will look to return to being one of the most effective rushing units in the league. "Two years ago, a lot of the plays were small plays in the beginning, and then, all of a sudden, we started breaking big plays," Zuttah said. "As an offense, we just have to be able to stay on the field and keep converting third downs so we get more chances to run the ball, and then eventually some of them will pop."

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