Orlando Brown Jr. has officially won the starting job at right tackle, Head Coach John Harbaugh confirmed Wednesday.
That came as no surprise to those watching how well Brown has played the past seven games after a back injury to James Hurst elevated Brown into a starting role.
Hurst returned to the lineup last weekend, but instead of returning to right tackle, Hurst started at left guard in place of injured Alex Lewis (shoulder). Regardless of who starts at left guard, Hurst won't be moved back to right tackle. That starting position belongs to Brown, a third-round pick from Oklahoma who has no plans to rest on his laurels.
"I'm just grinding, man, that's it," said Brown, who is continuing a family legacy as the son of Orlando "Zeus" Brown, a former Ravens offensive tackle who died in 2011 at age 40. "It's an honor to play for this franchise, to play with these guys. But I'm focused on bettering my game."
Brown thinks he benefitted from not starting the first six games, watching and waiting for his chance.
"They didn't have to throw me into the fire," Brown said. "I thought I was ready, but it's all about working hard and understanding your role. When they called my number, I knew I was going to be able to perform at a high level. But I'm not playing my best football yet. I'm just continuing to work. I have big aspirations in this league. To get where I want to be, I'm not even close to that yet."
That passion to improve is one of the things Harbaugh loves about Brown, who plays with a chip on his shoulder whether in practice or games.
"He only gets better," Harbaugh said. "I think he can play a lot better. Ask Orlando – he'll tell you the same thing, because he's adamant about that, and he works really hard at it."
Lamar Jackson's Elevation to Starting Role Continues Strong Rookie Class Showing
The Ravens' 2018 rookie class continues to play a major role in the team's fortunes with Lamar Jackson now the starting quarterback, Brown the starting right tackle, Gus Edwards the starting running back, and tight end Mark Andrews and inside linebacker Kenny Young both playing a significant number of snaps on game days. Cornerback Anthony Averett is starting to see more time too.
"You have a lot of rookies playing, it's great, because you drafted well, and those guys are good players." Harbaugh said. "They're not going to be out there if they're not, and they're doing a great job. It's also great because their upside is so high, and they can get so much better. There are learning and growing pains with that sometimes, but the thing I like about these guys is they learn quickly from their mistakes, and they usually don't make the same mistake twice."
Since Jackson has been starting, the Ravens have put more emphasis on the running game, which the offensive linemen have embraced. Brown loves being able to fire off the ball, using his strength to open holes for Jackson and the running backs.
"The running game is important for any quarterback, especially a rookie quarterback," Brown said. "I think it takes a lot of pressure off him, the plays and decisions he has to make."
Patrick Ricard Twitter Situation Has Been Handled Internally
Ravens fullback/defensive lineman Patrick Ricard was at Wednesday's practice after a difficult few days. Racist and homophobic tweets by Ricard when he was in high school surfaced on social media over the weekend.
Harbaugh said he would let the team handle it, and Ricard spoke to the entire defense (and presumably offense) on Tuesday. On Wednesday, defensive tackle Michael Pierce expressed his support for Ricard.
"I was shocked, honestly, but like I said, Pat is family," Pierce said. "We actually went to dinner the Monday – last Monday – so I never would have expected it. That's not the guy I know, and it's unfortunate that he said it, but he's still a brother to me and a brother to us on this team. So, yes, we're going to stand behind him.
Pierce Looks Forward to Matchup Against Ex-Raven Ryan Jensen
Sunday's game will mark the return of Tampa Bay Buccaneers center Ryan Jensen to M&T Bank Stadium. Jensen played five seasons with the Ravens before signing with Tampa as a free agent last March. Jensen is one of the NFL's feistiest offensive lineman, known for physical play right up to and sometimes a little beyond the whistle. Pierce said he would welcome both.
"Ryan was my workout partner in his contract year," Pierce said. "I'm sure he'll be hyped-up to be back here. I got really aquatinted with him throughout my two years while he was here, so yes, we're ready. He knows one way to play football, just as we do, so everything that he does, we expect, and we'll be ready for it."