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Ravens Like Eugene Monroe-Kelechi Osemele Combo

From hearing Head Coach John Harbaugh talk after Thursday's organized team activity (OTA), he really wants to keep Kelechi Osemele at left guard.

There's been a lot of chatter about the possibility of Osemele moving to right tackle if Rick Wagner or somebody else isn't ready. That's still on the table.

But Harbaugh really likes what he sees in a Eugene Monroe-Kelechi Osemele combo on the left side. He brought them up before taking any questions from the media.

"The left side of the offensive line, they're looking very good and they've been working really hard," Harbaugh said.

"I sure like the way [Osemele] and Eugene look on the left side. That's the direction we're heading right now, and hopefully we can maintain that course."

The Ravens re-signed Monroe to be their franchise left tackle and have high expectations for him this year. They see him as a Pro Bowler in the making. They also view Osemele, a 2012 second-round pick, in the same light.

Put them next to each other and the Ravens have an opportunity to dramatically improve the left side of their offensive line, which featured Bryant McKinnie and A.Q. Shipley last year.

Osemele and Monroe played side-by-side for two games last season before Osemele was placed on injured reserve (back). In Week 7 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the two worked extremely well and the offensive line had one of its best games, perhaps giving a preview into this season.

Monroe received a 3.1 grade from Pro Football Focus (PFF), Osemele got a 2.4 and right guard Marshal Yanda had a 3.9. It was Monroe's third-best grade of the season and Osemele's top performance.

"I always felt like we gelled, even last year before I had the surgery," Osemele said, noting Monroe's strong communication skills.

"There are not really a lot of times I have to come off my guy on a slide to go in and help Eugene. Obviously that's going to make us stouter in the middle, because he's so athletic that he can kind of be on an island. Working with him, it should really sure up protection."

Monroe said he even noticed Osemele when he was a rookie and Monroe was still in Jacksonville.

"He's back to his usual self, running around, being one of the best conditioned guys on the field, just grinding trying to get better," Monroe said. "I'm glad he's right next to me, man. I really am."

Whether Monroe and Osemele end up starting next to each other still partly depends on the competition at right tackle, where it's now Rick Wagner versus Ryan Jensen. Harbaugh expects a "heck of a battle" there.

But if neither player is ready, which likely won't be determined until well into training camp or the preseason, Osemele could slide to the position where he started all 16 regular-season games as a rookie. Osemele reiterated that he would like to stay at guard.

"Obviously left guard [is my preference] because of the ridiculous amount of reps we have at practice every day," he said. "That's muscle memory, so that's what I'm comfortable with. But obviously getting the best five out there is what we're going to do."

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