Reveling in the Physical Battle

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Much is made about the violent clashes between offensive and defensive lines. The phrase *battle of the trenches *can be overused when describing the stop/start scrum of the NFL behemoths.

Captured in slow-motion it's a brutal ballet; in live-action it may well have been the inspiration for Braveheart's battle scenes.

How often does the aggression of offensive and defensive lines go over the line?

"Often," said offensive lineman Ben Grubbs.

It's not his response that is surprising; it's the smile that accompanies it.

It is quite clear that Grubbs is the kind of man you want on your offensive line. He seems to revel in the reality of his professional demands and does a damn fine job in the process.

"The thing that sets [Grubbs] apart is the ability to be tough-minded, to be physical and to get after people," offensive line coach John Matsko said. "We watched him when he came out of Auburn and he was one of the top guards in all of college football and now he's one of the best guards in all of professional football."

"That toughness is innate in Ben. You try to bring it out in people, but he's got it. And that's what the Ravens look for in football players – aggressive, physical players."

Additionally, Grubbs has a unique understanding of different positions on the football field considering he's played a number of them. On his high school team in Eclectic, AL, he played linebacker, offensive lineman and fullback.

At Auburn University, he moved from defensive tackle to tight end until finally settling in at his left guard position.

Joe Hortiz, Ravens director of college scouting, sees Grubbs' time spent on both sides of the ball as a reason he is enjoying so much success as an offensive guard.

"When you turned on the film, you saw a player that was very athletic, quick-footed and powerful," said Hortiz. "He played the game with an aggressive style. He was a former defensive lineman and played like a defensive lineman in the sense that he was attacking guys as a run-blocker. And when he had the chance to finish guys, he did it."

After being selected in the first round of the 2007 draft, Grubbs then learned what it took to be a starter on the Ravens' offensive line: hard work and aggression.

"You have to be aggressive," said Grubbs. "I think it's important because we stand on pounding the ball. Running the ball is sort of a way of forcing your will upon defenders. And if you're running the ball well, your opponent is going to get frustrated in the end and it's going to open up the passing game. But it doesn't matter if we throw the ball 50 times or run the ball 50 times because we're going to be physical no matter what."

This Monday night, the task doesn't get any easier for Grubbs and his teammates as the Ravens go up against the Green Bay Packers, who boast the number one defense in the NFL.

The games outcome is unpredictable, but coach Matsko does take some solace in knowing Grubbs will lay everything on the line in effort.

"Ben plays with a mean streak," said Matsko. "And most importantly, he plays like a Raven."

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