Coming off a frustrating preseason opener against the Eagles in which the Ravens’ offensive line allowed six sacks and failed to give quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Tyrod Taylor any type of comfort zone in the pocket, the Ravens know they need to improve in that area.
Playing without starting center Matt Birk and with a rotation of Oniel Cousins and rookie Jah Reid at right tackle against Philadelphia on Thursday, the offensive line had a rough night, and left many fans and media members wondering if Flacco would be able to make it through a full 16-game season without losing a limb.
Making adjustments to the offensive line is clearly a priority right now in head coach John Harbaugh’s world.
“It will (improve), it has to,” Harbaugh said. “If you look around the league, you’re going to see those kinds of issues all through training camp early on and even as we get into the season. So, you know we’ve just got to get better at what we’re doing. I think some of the one-on-one stuff, we can correct that stuff really quickly. We’ve got to go to work, and we’re still looking to add players, too, so that’s a big part of it. It all goes hand in hand.”
One of the adjustments the Ravens might look to make is to move Cousins over to guard. If the fourth-year man out of UTEP can slot in and become a serviceable option at right guard, that could allow Marshal Yanda to move over to right tackle.
The Ravens would prefer to leave Yanda at right guard - where they believe he can play at a Pro Bowl level - and find a starting-caliber right tackle, either on the free agent market, through a trade, or with a guy currently on their roster (Reid, hopefully). But if that isn’t an option, moving Cousins to guard and Yanda to tackle might be the best move, if Cousins can prove he can handle it.
Yanda has sat out practice the last two days with back spasms, and in that time, Cousins has gotten the first-team work at right guard.
“There may be a position that he’s more suited for,” Harbaugh said of Cousins. “I think we talked in the off season about moving him to guard, but with Yanda coming back, we decided to give him a shot at the right tackle spot. Maybe he is suited for that position. That’s what we’ll find out. That’s one of the great things about training camp: You have a chance to look at guys and see how they do.
“I think he is really powerful,” Harbaugh added yesterday. “He is a powerful guy in there. He is really explosive. He has long arms. He passed off all the twists in the games really well. We’ll just have to see how it works out and maybe take a look at him in the game.”
As for Reid, the rookie had some issues at right tackle on Thursday, but showed flashes of impressive strength and agility, as well. Harbaugh said he liked what he saw from the third-round pick after taking a look at the game film, and he’s looking forward to watching Reid try and make some improvements in the Ravens’ next preseason game, Friday against Kansas City.
“I saw a guy that’s going to be a really good player; it’s just a matter of when,” Harbaugh said. “It’s going to take a certain amount of time. Hopefully, it doesn’t take more than about four weeks. That would be our goal to get him ready in four weeks. But he’s really smart, he’s a quick learner. I think the most improvement always comes between the first and second game, so it’ll be fun to watch.
“The Chiefs have a nice pass rusher in Tamba Hali. It’s an odd front; it will be a big challenge. So, it’ll be a good chance to evaluate how fast he’s coming along between last week and this week.”