Ryan Jensen Says He's an Annoying Mosquito. Others Have More Colorful Descriptions


It was late in the fourth quarter and the Ravens were running the ball at Oakland's defense, wearing down the clock and the Raiders front line in the process.

Center Ryan Jensen was just playing his game – blocking hard until the echo of the whistle – when Raiders defensive end Mario Edwards had enough.

Edwards threw a few jabs at Jensen at the end of one play, connecting with a couple. Cameras zoomed in on Jensen. He was laughing.

"I get enjoyment out of it. I just start laughing," Jensen said. "I'm that annoying little mosquito that just won't go away, I guess."

"Little" isn't the best description of the 6-foot-4, 319-pound blocker. Annoying, however, is spot on.

The Ravens lost some of the nastiness on their offensive line when Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda left the field with a fractured ankle in Week 2.

Jensen, however, has provided his own brand of physicality to Baltimore's trenches, and is a big reason why the Ravens offensive line is starting to show it's better than people thought.

After Sunday's 30-17 win, wide receiver Mike Wallace praised the offensive line's performance and specifically brought up Jensen.

"Jensen is Jensen. He almost had like four fights, so you know, good day," Wallace joked.

Defenders have a different reaction.

Outside linebacker called Jensen a "savage," and an "old-school mauler who likes to rumble, likes to fight." Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley called Jensen a "butthole."

"I take that as a compliment," Jensen said when told about the comment.

The thing is, the Ravens love it.

"He's a great competitor," Mosley said. "You want that kind of play with all your players, especially on the O-line. He's not going to let anybody big boy him."

"The thing that you see with him the most is how nasty he is on Sunday and the style that he plays with," quarterback Joe Flacco added. "You need that kind of player. You love to have those guys on your side."

So where did Jensen learn this kind of nastiness?

He's been playing football since he was 7 years old, and the game is in his blood. He has wild, long red hair, and a large tattoo of Danish coat of arms, a nod to his Viking heritage.

"I think it is just the red hair in me, it's kind of ornery," Jensen said. "I used to have a really short temper, and now I've kind of controlled it."

Then again, asked how many fights he's been over the past 19 years of playing football, Jensen said he honestly doesn't know. "Probably countless."

His offensive line coach at Colorado State-Pueblo, Chris Symington, further sharpened Jensen's edges. Symington's son would incessantly tap his finger on the dinner table. For a while, it was fine. But after a little bit, that tapping got really annoying. Eventually, Symington would snap.

Be the guy tapping his finger, Jensen was taught.

So play after play, Jensen gets physical. He hits hard at the point of attack, drives his opponent and then pesters. He will do just about anything (within the rules, of course) to get the job done.

After Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack, the reigninig NFL Defenisve MVP, knocked Jensen's helmet off with a blitz up the middle, Jensen blasted him to the ground, then continued driving him into the turf as Mack tried to get back up.

That led to yet another shoving match with two Raiders players and Mack calling Jensen "soft as hell." That's one description that definitely doesn't seem to fit.

"I just enjoy getting in people's heads," Jensen said. "When they're getting that frustrated with you, you're doing something right. You're getting them out of their game."

Mack didn't record a single pressure, hit or sack for the first time since 2014.

Jensen isn't just all scrap and no substance. The 2013 sixth-round pick has emerged as a very effective player this season in his first year as a full-time starter.

Before training camp started, the Ravens rotated three centers with their first-team offense: Jensen, John Urschel and Matt Skura. Among the entire offense – and perhaps the team – the identity of the Ravens' starting center was the biggest question mark.

Turn the clock forward to Week 6 of the NFL season and Jensen is one of the league's top-graded centers. Jensen's plus-10.1 overall grade for the year is the third-best in the NFL.

As Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday, Jensen played his best game yet in Oakland. Jensen didn't surrender a single quarterback hit, hurry or sack, and was particularly strong in run blocking. The Ravens rumbled for 143 yards on the day. Flacco didn't get sacked.

Jensen had the highest single-game grade of any Raven and the highest grade among any center in the league in Week 5. Jensen is proving that he's more than just a mauler.

"He knows the offense, makes the calls, he is very smart," Harbaugh said. "He is playing well, and we want him to continue to build on that."

Harbaugh said Jensen is still working on his snapping, communication and overall understanding of the offense. As Harbaugh said, center is probably the offense's most complicated position next to the quarterback, and much of Jensen's experience leading into this year had been at guard.

But at the end of the day, Jensen "is who he is."

"You know the kind of style he plays with, and we appreciate that," Harbaugh said.

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