John Simpson has won the starting left guard competition and will be the starting left guard Week 1 for the Ravens when they face the Houston Texans.
"John's going to be the starter, he's earned that," Head Coach John Harbaugh said following Saturday night's 26-20 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "John deserves it. He's had a great camp. A vet, and physical. I love the way he played."
Simpson was excited about joining the starting offensive line with Ronnie Stanley, Tyler Linderbaum, Kevin Zeitler and Morgan Moses.
"It feels great. We've all been putting in a lot of work this off season and I just felt like this is the most comfortable I've been in a long time," Simpson said. "I just feel like I did what I could when I could and every opportunity I had, I tried to take advantage of it, and I felt like I did so. I really appreciate Coach Harbaugh and everybody trusting me and putting me in this position."
Simpson was signed by the Ravens last December after being released by the Raiders. The former fourth-round pick in 2020 worked his way into the starting lineup as a rookie and started all 17 games for the Raiders in 2021.But he admitted he lost confidence after he was released.
"I came in and I feel like I had zero confidence and I had to work through that," Simpson said "It wasn't easy. So, every day, I try to take one step to get better. If it's 1%, 2%, 3%, 100%, anything is better than nothing. So, I try to look at it like that and just try to get better every day. They've been helping me with my confidence too and just helping me [improve] my craft."
The Ravens returned four of their five starters from last season. With Simpson as the only new piece, Harbaugh expects the offensive line to be a strength of the team.
"I have high hopes for the offensive line, high expectations," Harbaugh said. "They're going to drive us. They're going to be our rock, and I expect them to play at the highest level."
Harbaugh said rookie sixth-round pick Sala Aumavae-Laulu, who was competing for the starting left guard position, will need to be ready to play if called upon and will be just fine.
"I think Sala's kind of what you would expect. He's done well, he moves his feet well, he's very physical at times," Harbaugh said. "I think the sky's the limit for him. He's got a great future. He's going to be a part of it this year."