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The Competition: Guards and Centers


PLEASE NOTE:The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

They don't play the sexiest of positions, but the Ravens' guards and centers are the linchpin of Baltimore's young offensive line.

Thus, these maulers are critically important to the Ravens' 2010 success.

The Ravens seem to be set at the starting positions, but there's talent waiting in the wings, which should give Baltimore good versatility and quality depth. takes a look at these guards and centers in competition:

C Matt Birk, 13th seasonWhat He's Done: Birk anchored the Ravens' line in his first year in Baltimore last season. His veteran leadership tied together the Ravens' young line.
What He's Going For:  The starting spot is his. The six-time Pro Bowler hasn't been to football's all-star game since 2007. A return trip would be nice.
What He Needs To Do:  Just keep on rolling. Birk has been a model of consistency and hasn't missed a game over the past four years.

G Ben Grubbs, 4th seasonWhat He's Done:After being dubbed a Pro Bowl alternate last year, Grubbs is on the cusp of breaking onto the national scene.
What He's Going For: With the starting left guard spot locked up, the Pro Bowl would be the next accomplishment. Grubbs will also look to gel with new left tackle Michael Oher.
What He Needs To Do: He's one of the elite guards in the league, so at this point he just needs to refine his craft.

G Marshal Yanda, 4th seasonWhat He's Done: Yanda bounced back from a knee injury last year to regain his starting spot. He was a critical piece in the Ravens' late-season power running attack and was excellent in the playoffs.
What He's Going For: Yanda will have to hold off Chris Chester for the starting right guard spot, but he would seem to have the edge as the returning starter.
What He Needs To Do: Stay healthy. The only thing that knocked the Iowa mauler out of the starting lineup was his knee injury in 2008.

G/C Chris Chester, 5th seasonWhat He's Done: Chester has been a versatile fixture on the Ravens' line since his rookie season. He started the 2009 season as the starting right guard before being supplanted.
What He's Going For: He wants his starting spot back, but Chester is ready to contribute wherever he can. Last year he filled in as an extra tight end during jumbo formations and he could even see time at center if Birk were to go down. If not a starter, Chester wants to be the next man up.
What He Needs To Do: Chester's strength is his athleticism. He can pull and block downfield very well. He added some bulk this offseason to make him a better bruising run blocker.

G/C David Hale, 3rd seasonWhat He's Done:Hale has seen more game action as a special teams battering ram than on the offensive line. The former fourth-round pick missed four games due to a head injury last season.
What He's Going For: More opportunities. With all the talent on the Ravens line, Hale hasn't seen many chances to stand out. But he's versatile (he can play center, guard and tackle), so he has a chance to fill-in across the board.
What He Needs To Do: First off, he's got to stay healthy. Secondly, Hale has impressed coaches during each of the past two training camps. He needs to shine in preseason games to take the next step.
C Digger Bujnoch, 1st season What He's Done: The 2008 undrafted free agent bounced around practice squads for the New York Giants, Cincinnati Bengals and New Orleans Saints before landing in Baltimore in January.
What He's Going For: A roster spot. Bujnoch's buddy, Daniel Sanders, (who signed with the Ravens at the same time as Sanders) was released earlier this offseason. Bujnoch is hoping to avoid the same fate.
What He Needs To Do: Bujnoch's dedication is evident. He's been a workout warrior in Owings Mills this offseason. Now he needs to improve his technique.

The Ravens also have a couple of guard/tackles in Tony Moll and Joe Reitz. They were featured in .Competition: Tackles

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