O-Line Shuffle


It may look a little different by the time training camp rolls around on July 21, but Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron believes he has his starting offensive line in place.

At least in his own mind.

During Wednesday's Organized Team Activity (OTA), there was no Jonathan Ogden. There were sightings of Adam Terry during individual drills with a heavily-taped left ankle, but not from scrimmage. And, former practice squadder Mike Kracalik was manning the left tackle position.

In fact, the unit on the field Wednesday was nothing like the one Cameron plans on cultivating towards the regular season.

That line would consist of Jared Gaither at left tackle, Ben Grubbs next to Gaither, former right guard Jason Brown at center, Marshal Yanda moving inside from his previous spot of right tackle to guard and Terry anchoring the right side.

The stark changes are all part of a plan to overhaul the unit in adaptation to Cameron's proven playbook. Players may be out of the positions they have played in their careers, but with the coordinator's arrival also came a new sense of energy and pride in the offense.

And, Baltimore's offensive linemen are taking the switches in stride.

"I feel like I'm getting better," said Yanda, who started 12 contests at right tackle as a rookie last year. "It was a change, but we've all got to be flexible in what we're doing. It was stated right away that it was going to a lot more high-intensity. We've got to keep working hard to get our roles down."

According to Cameron, Brown's role is lynchpin. The four-year veteran started at center for three seasons at the University of North Carolina before turning into a left guard at the professional level.

As a fourth-round draft pick in 2005, Brown is the most-tenured on the young Ravens line along with Terry, who was a second-round selection that year.

"We felt like it was natural to move him back, because the center is the leader of your offensive line," Cameron explained. "Right now, he's the leader of our offensive line. Now, there are other guys who are leading as well, but those guys are very young, and [Brown] is a veteran guy."

Brown's leadership comes at a time when Baltimore is preparing for life without Ogden. The first draft pick in Ravens history is expected to hang up his cleats, and it was recently reported that Ogden could make that decision as soon as next week.

Ogden is due in Baltimore for his foundation's golf tournament on Friday, June 13.

Many originally thought Terry would be the immediate successor to one of the most dominant left tackles in the game, considering he has started at both left and right tackle. In the end, Cameron insisted that Terry is better suited for the right side.

"It's Adam Terry's job when he gets back and gets healthy," said Cameron. "I know that when he gets healthy he's a good ball player. I liked him coming out of college. I liked him before he got hurt last year. I see him as a right tackle who could play left tackle, and when we get him back he'll be a right tackle."

Offseason ankle surgery has limited Terry through every minicamp, giving rookie Oniel Cousins a temporary shot with the first team.

Cousins, a 6-foot-4, 310-pound mauler out of UTEP, is happy to take the extra reps, even though he sees Terry in his rearview mirror.

"I'm trying to get better every day, and that is more like trying to learn the game faster," he said. "Adam has been great to me. He's helped me a lot. I'm just preparing myself as ready to play as a starter. I'm not worried about my position on the depth chart right now."

Which leaves Gaither - a fifth-round pick in last year's supplemental draft - as the de-facto starter at left tackle, even though Kracalik filled in Wednesday for undisclosed reasons.

"He's without question the most improved guy on offense, in my opinion," Cameron said of Gaither. "He has a long way to go. It's one of those cases where you go to training camp, and the grind at training camp is where you make the left tackles. You really don't find out about your left tackles until they give up a sack or two. Once they do that, you've got to find out how they bounce back.

"A left tackle has to have a little bit of a short memory," he continued. "He's got to move on, because we're not going to take him out, and we're not going to move him onto the right side. So we're going to learn a lot about him, and if someone else shows up over there we'll learn a lot about him as well."

Outside circles have questioned Gaither's work ethic in the past, but the 22-year-old is committed to proving those doubters wrong.

"I'm just going to go out there and go at it every day," he stated. "Nothing is going to change. I'm going to give it 110 percent every day and go out there and work. This is my season. I have been looking forward to it since the beginning of last year."

Of course, at this point last year, the Ravens had more questions than answers on their offensive line. Edwin Mulitalo, Tony Pashos and Keydrick Vincent were all gone. Retirement thoughts were just beginning to creep into Ogden's head. And, Brown was still preparing to play guard.

At least now, there seem to be more answers than questions.

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