There’s still time for all of this to change with nearly a month left until the Ravens kick off the regular season, but Saturday’s practice was a first look at the projected offensive line with Marshal Yanda in it.
Yanda took on a defender for the first time in 11 months Saturday, as the Pro Bowl right guard went from individual work to full 11-on-11 drills.
He was still eased in with only a few reps at a time as he comes back from his shoulder surgery, but it was interesting to see how it shuffled Baltimore’s offensive line.
The Ravens now have all of their projected possible starters on the field, and the first-team offensive line was (from left to right) Ronnie Stanley, Alex Lewis, Matt Skura, Yanda and James Hurst.
Yes, Hurst bumped from right guard to right tackle upon Yanda’s return, which officially kicks off the competition for the starting right tackle spot with rookie third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr.
The Ravens have given Brown all the reps with the starters at right tackle throughout the summer with Hurst standing in at right guard with Yanda sidelined.
Baltimore liked Hurst there because he could mentor Brown and it adds to his versatility. Hurst can now play every spot on the offensive line except center and is very much in the running to start at right tackle if the rookie third-round pick isn’t ready.
The Ravens will still give Brown plenty of opportunities to grow and prove himself. Whenever Yanda left the field, Hurst went back to right guard and Brown stepped in at right tackle. Brown hasn’t missed a single rep at practice since first taking the field in rookie minicamp.
“They say, ‘one of the best abilities is availability,’ and he’s been available every single practice to improve,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s the kind of player that gets better with every rep, too. He’s very smart. He takes the lesson learned from the previous rep and applies it to the next rep, and I think you see, in his play, the results of that.”
The other notable point on the offensive line is that Skura remained the first-team center. While that’s not a total surprise, the Ravens could have moved Hurst back to left guard, where he started 16 games last year, and shifted Lewis to center.
Orlando Brown Jr. Has Remade His Body Composition
Continuing with the rookie blocker … his fitness was under the microscope during the Combine because of his poor showing in the 40-yard dash and bench press.
Since then, however, Brown has worked hard with the Ravens’ strength and conditioning staff to totally remake his body composition. And as previously stated, he’s been in fine enough shape to make it through every single practice this summer.
Brown said that when he started training for the NFL in January, he weighed 365 pounds and had 31 percent body fat. When he first reported to the Ravens, he was 338 pounds and 23 percent body fat. Now he’s 350 pounds and 19 percent body fat.
That’s a major transformation, and one that he said makes him feel faster on the edge. Brown has done well in both of the Ravens’ first two preseason games.
However, it’s the constant reps in practice that Brown says aremaking the biggest difference.
“Taking a lot of reps against the great talent that we have has forced me and trained me into being more consistent and better at blocking the speed. It was something that I never really struggled with in my career, but the guys here on this level are a lot faster,” Brown said.
“I would definitely say in the league it’s about being more efficient with the way you approach the game, with your fundamentals, your hand placements, footwork, your timing, critiquing the little things. In college, you get away with a lot of stuff that you can’t get away with in the league because of the talent, the size of guys and pure athleticism.”