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Ravens Offensive Line Improvement Is Evident


Elvis Dumervil has already noticed the difference.

When the outside linebacker matches up against the Ravens offensive line in practice this year, he can see that the group is much improved from last year.

"They look better," Dumervil said. "I think the system Gary Kubiak implemented is very beneficial for those guys, so I expect big things for them."

Upgrading the offensive line was a major priority for the Ravens this offseason after the group struggled to open holes in the running game and allowed Joe Flacco to get sacked a career-high 48 times.

To bolster the unit, the front office re-signed left tackle Eugene Monroe and traded for center Jeremy Zutttah. Both are expected to be long-term fixtures in Baltimore.

The Ravens also hired Kubiak as the offensive coordinator, bringing in a coach with a history of building offenses that are strong up front and can pound the ball on the ground. 

"It's early still, but it seems like we're on the right track," Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda said. "It's a fresh start. You take it and you run with it. Everybody is working hard and that's what you need to do at this time. You stick your nose down and just grind and get better as a team."

There were several issues for the offense last season, but one of them was confusion up front.

That has changed under Kubiak.

The long-time offensive coach has a clear vision for his scheme and how it is supposed to operate, and that has made a difference for the Ravens.

"I love the system," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "I love the way he coaches. I love the way he says things. He's very direct, very black and white. He explains very clearly what he expects. … Our guys are going to know what to do and Gary is a great coach." 

The other big difference is that the Ravens are healthy.

Right guard Marshal Yanda has fully recovered from last offseason's shoulder surgery that limited him early in the year. At this point last year, Yanda wasn't even practicing.

Left guard Kelechi Osemele is also looking like his old self after a back injury hindered him last year and then landed him on injured reserve.

"Everybody's healthy," Monroe said. "You always have guys that will step up, but our core guys are ready to go at this point, and we've all been working together all offseason."

Osemele's return has already made a difference in practice. The 6-foot-5, 320-pound lineman is a mauler who can push around defensive lineman, and he's anchored down the left side with Monroe.

"He's a baller," Monroe said about Osemele. "He's aggressive, he's intelligent and he's exactly what you need."

Osemele, Yanda and Monroe are all holdovers on the offensive line, but the Ravens will have new starters at center and right tackle. Zuttah is penciled in as the starting center after Gino Gradkowski started all 16 games last year, and Rick Wagner has the edge on the right tackle job. Michael Oher started at right tackle last season before departing in free agency.

Wagner has received high praise from teammates and coaches, and Zuttah has impressed the Ravens with how well he has picked up the offense.

"He has done a great job," Yanda said about Zuttah. "The calls have been coming out fast. He's picked up on the offense great. We go out there and there's not a lot of confusion. Everyone is just rolling and he's doing a good job."

With the steps the group has made during the offseason, expectations are high. The true results won't be fully visible until real games in the regular season, but the initial returns have all been positive and the Ravens are confident in the unit.

"I would definitely hope that we're more productive," Monroe said. "We're grinding every day to be successful. Only time will tell."

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