The Ravens' offensive linemen say they are not worried about the offensive line.
We did not see the Ravens' starting front five together during the preseason. Right guard Marshal Yanda did not play a snap, recovering from a shoulder injury. Rookie right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. started every preseason game, as James Hurst also missed some preseason reps due to injury.
Working cohesively is important for any offensive line, and the Ravens' starting unit took no preseason snaps together. Is that a major concern heading into Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills? Not according to Yanda, who believes the starting front is rested and ready to perform at a high level.
"We should be good to go," said Yanda, who is entering his 12th season fully recovered from a fractured ankle that ended his 2017 season in Week 2, as well as offseason shoulder surgery.
"You don't usually get to keep the same five anyway, whether it's injuries, preseason, or retirements. I'm excited to get after it. I had what, 1,000 snaps off last season? I feel fresh, I feel healthy, I'm really excited."
The biggest offensive line competition during preseason was between Hurst and Brown at right tackle. The other four starters up front are set – left tackle Ronnie Stanley, left guard Alex Lewis, center Matt Skura, and Yanda.
Hurst has been listed No. 1 on the most recent depth chart. When asked Thursday what factors went into going with Hurst over Brown, Ravens Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg first pointed to Hurt's experience (34 starts).
"James is a heck of a player and Orlando is coming," Mornhinweg said. "Orlando had just an outstanding preseason and training camp. So, Orlando is ready to go. Now, that preparation is going to be key for him."
Hurst has played both guard and tackle during his four seasons with the Ravens, but he came into training camp with the mindset to win the starting right tackle job. The competition with Brown has pushed Hurst to improve.
"Every year, 300 rookies are coming in [to the NFL]," Hurst said. "The reality of it, they're trying to take your job. That's the business. It's a performance-driven league. What have you done for me lately? We all understand that. No hard feelings toward Orlando or anyone else on the team. It's part of the business we're in. It motivates everyone."
Hurst said Brown has worked very hard this offseason, and is extremely gifted. He said he's "definitely going to be a player in the league."
Brown gained valuable reps during the preseason, and said he felt ready if called upon.
"All the vets have been beneficial to me, helping me get ready," Brown said. "I played against some talented players in the preseason. The small details and the fundamentals are the biggest differences at this level. I've grabbed the playbook pretty well. I'm not going to say I have it to a tee, but my body has come along, my fundamentals have come along. I'm continuing to grow as a player and person."
The Ravens want a balanced attack, able to run and pass effectively. With running back Alex Collins gaining nearly 1,000 yards last season, and quarterback Joe Flacco playing well throughout training camp and preseason, Yanda thinks the Ravens will have a prolific offense if the line plays well.
"You have to be willing to pass 60 times in a game sometimes to win, and sometimes you have to run the ball 35 times a game to win," Yanda said. "You try not to predetermine things. When Sunday comes, I tell the young guys, 'Whatever is called, execute the play to the best of our ability.' If it's 20 or 30 passes in a row? Do your job at a high level. Let them guys [coaches] makes those decisions. That's what they're paid to do. We're getting paid to block."
Behind the Ravens' top six offensive linemen, the Ravens kept second-year offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor and sixth-round center Bradley Bozeman on the 53-man roster. Almost every team in the NFL is looking for more offensive line depth, but Yanda is hoping for a healthy season, for himself and for the entire line. If that happens, Yanda believes the line's performance will speak for itself.
"I like what I saw during training camp and the practices," Yanda said. "I'm feeling really good going into it."