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News & Notes: Ravens Want O-Line Chemistry, But Left Guard Spot Is Still Up for Grabs

G Kevin Zeitler

As the Ravens' second-team offense went through 11-on-11 work Tuesday, center Bradley Bozeman and right guard Kevin Zeitler stood behind the play talking, building on their familiarity.

Baltimore's offensive line is starting to come together as Bozeman (ankle) returned to practice Tuesday, Zeitler (foot) came back on Monday and left tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) continues to make progress in his comeback.

After the blocking was a problem in Saturday's preseason opener, it's not a moment too soon.

"We need to start pushing for that continuity. Now is about that time," Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said.

"When you look at the calendar and where we're at, the more time we can get those guys together – communicating together, getting a feel for each other – it's tangible, it's real. The more of that, the better off we'll be."

At the same time, the Ravens still have to settle one of their starting spots. Left tackle (Stanley), center (Bozeman), right guard (Zeitler) and right tackle (Alejandro Villanueva) are known, but the battle at right guard between Ben Powers, Ben Cleveland (concussion), Tyre Phillips and others wages on.

"It's really wide open," Roman said. "A lot of guys could occupy that spot. We're going to keep working through all the different scenarios.

"Nobody has grabbed it just yet. There's merit for everybody at this point. We'll see who keeps stepping forward, who keeps stepping up. It's a big thing though. The faster we can get that done the better. But whenever it happens, we'll make it work."

Wink Martindale Loves His Cornerback Depth

The Ravens' offensive line and wide receiver units have been tested by injuries in training camp, and now it seems the cornerbacks are starting to get hit too as Marlon Humphrey left Tuesday’s practice early with a reported “mild strain.”

Jimmy Smith has been out since Aug. 6 with an ankle injury and Khalil Dorsey was placed on injured reserve Monday. Smith is expected to be back in time for the regular season.

The good news is the Ravens' reserve cornerbacks have been playing well, including Anthony Averett and Chris Westry. In a defensive meeting Monday night, Martindale told his unit that he thinks Averett is the team's third-best cornerback.

"He's one of my favorites," Martindale said. "I think the kid has All-Pro talent. I tell him that every day, and he's practicing that way this year."

Westry signed a reserves/futures deal in January after spending the previous two years with the Dallas Cowboys. The undrafted Kentucky cornerback was stashed on injured reserve (hamstring) as a rookie, then spent much of last year on the Cowboys' practice squad. He was elevated for two games.

Standing in at 6-foot-4, 199 pounds, Westry has been a challenge for the Ravens' receivers in training camp.

"He's super long," Devin Duvernay said Monday. "You definitely have to approach him differently."

"With Westry, a guy that's that big and that long and that fast," Martindale said. "I don't know how we got him here, but God bless Eric [DeCosta] for doing it. I mean, he's really come on."

Teams Will Be Watching Undrafted Kicker Jake Verity

Undrafted Ravens kicker Jake Verity boomed 53- and 42-yard field goals in Saturday's preseason opener, conjuring memories of Kaare Vedvik, the undrafted kicker Baltimore traded to Minnesota a couple years ago for a fifth-round pick.

The Ravens do a better job than any team in the league of developing kickers with Special Teams Coach Randy Brown, who also has an eye for identifying raw talents to bring to Baltimore for polishing.

Verity will likely continue to get plenty of game opportunities because All-Pro Justin Tucker doesn't need too much practice, and Special Teams Coordinator Chris Horton expects that other kicker-needy teams will be watching.

"[Verity has] had a really good camp. He's been kicking the ball well. He's been doing a lot of good things. His kickoffs are outstanding," Horton said.

"For the younger guys that we bring in, Johnny [Townsend] and Jake, those guys understand that they're not only competing here, but they're trying to get a job somewhere else. I think if they go out and produce like they did Saturday night, there will be some teams that will be eyeing those guys."

Ravens Happy About Quarterback Situation Despite Injury

Trace McSorley is dealing with a back issue, but the Ravens still seem happy with their current quarterback situation with Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley. Kenji Bahar was also signed Monday to add some depth and another arm in practice and the preseason.

"I really like where Lamar is at," Roman said, as Jackson catches up with the rest of the offense after missing the first 10 days of training camp.

With McSorley going down, it appears that Huntley has won the backup quarterback job, at least for now.

"Tyler has a great attitude. He's very competitive, he has a strong arm, he's athletic, he's fast, he's a great guy. He's the kind of guy you want behind center," Roman said.

"Tyler has won a lot of football games. … He won a lot of football games in college. So that makes him a winner. Really, that's the number one thing of a quarterback is the win-loss column. That's the stat that matters the most and he's been very impressive in his career. It's really a credit to him. I think he's a great fit for us."

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