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What Now?


While it's never easy to lose a multiple-Pro Bowler, let alone one of the greatest at their respective position, that's exactly what the Ravens now have to do with the retirement of Jonathan Ogden.

As Ogden takes his first step into a sure-fire Hall of Fame induction in 2013 (the first year he's eligible), the Ravens will turn to a stable of young offensive linemen to fill a giant gap only a 6-foot-9, 345-pound mountain can leave.

Of course, it's not like Ogden's announcement was a surprise to anyone in Baltimore.

Ogden told general manager Ozzie Newsome nearly a month ago that he wasn't going to return. He'd been waffling ever since the Ravens closed out their 2007 campaign with a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. When it came down to it, the toe injury that hampered him for over a year was too much.

"He had finally communicated that to me that - based on his health situation - he no longer thought that he could play at a level he wanted to play at," said Newsome in Thursday's press conference. "He was done."

Now, Ogden's starting left tackle spot is all but Jared Gaither's. From the Ravens' standpoint, it just makes sense. Gaither is similarly-sized, at 6-foot-9, 350 pounds, nimble and has the raw power Ogden had when he entered the league.

Selected in the fifth round of the NFL Supplemental Draft last year after two seasons at Maryland, Gaither certainly does not have the pedigree Ogden the All-American possessed, but the Ravens see potential.

According to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, Gaither has already improved his commitment to both the class room and weight room.

"He's without question the most improved guy on offense, in my opinion," Cameron said. "He has a long way to go. It's one of those cases where you go to training camp, and the grind at training camp is where you make the left tackles."

As modest as he has always been, Ogden knows that nobody can immediately step into his size 16 cleats - and he hopes nobody does.

"I would tell him, 'Don't try to be me,'" Ogden said. "I'd tell anybody to try and be the best player they can be. That's how I approached the game throughout my entire career – just trying to do the best job I could do every day, every game, try to keep getting better.

"Don't feel the pressure too much. Just go out there and have fun with it, because at the end of the day it's still just a game. And doing the best you can, you know, will generally be enough. You don't need that extra pressure."

Even in only one season playing alongside Ogden, Gaither feels that he learned a lot from the master. Ogden isn't known as a big talker or a vocal leader, but one can absorb a lot simply watching the way the best professionals go about their business.

"He's helped me out a great deal," Gaither said. "I think anytime you can be around someone of his caliber, I think it can help you out a lot as a person and as a player on the field. He did a lot of things for me. Just being next to him and able to ask questions has helped me a lot."

The right side of the line is more defined. Cameron affirmed that Terry will start at right tackle, even though he's been severely limited by offseason ankle surgery.

Terry, a second-round pick in the 2005 draft, only recently came back to practice to take live reps with the first team.

He will also most likely back up left tackle, where he logged four of his nine starts last year.

Behind Gaither and Terry, the Ravens are counting on the versatile Mike Kracalik and rookie Oniel Cousins to provide depth at tackle. Kracalik switched from right to left tackle often last week as Gaither sat out the Ravens' last passing camp with migranes.

Without Ogden, the Ravens obviously have a huge void at tackle, but many solutions are already in Baltimore.

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