With news swirling around the Baltimore Ravens and free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick, one aspect of the Ravens that hasn’t gone unnoticed by their front office is the offensive line. Heading into training camp, there were already question marks on the O-line at both center and right tackle. Matters didn’t help when guard John Urschel abruptly retired from the NFL. After learning about the new CTE report, Urschel decided to focus on his career in mathematics. The Ravens, according to Pro Football Focus, had the 9th ranked overall offensive line in 2016, but with the loss of Ricky Wagner, the Ravens were left without a solid replacement.
On August 4th, The Ravens may have answered the question at right tackle with the signing of former Raiders OT Austin Howard. Howard is by no means an All-Pro at his position, but he’s a respectable seven-year veteran that played with the fourth-ranked offensive line in 2016 (the Raiders). Ironically, Howard was once on the Ravens practice squad in 2011, but then had continuous stints with the New York Jets and the Raiders. He has had his share of injuries, including both a knee injury in 2015, and an ankle injury in 2016. With the Ravens recent injury woes, I’m sure they are doing their best to prevent any further injuries involving Howard.
Howard will come in and challenge James Hurst for the starting RT position, and according to coaches, Hurst has been looking good in practice. That doesn’t mean Hurst wouldn’t do well with a little bit of competition; iron sharpens iron as they say. It will be interesting to see who will get the start in the Ravens first preseason game against the Washington Redskins, but odds are that both RT’s will take snaps through the game. For the Ravens, they will want to see who is the most balanced in terms of pass and run blocking, as Marty Mornhinweg will be looking to try using a more balanced offensive attack compared to 2016.
In retrospect, 66.26% of the offensive snaps were pass plays in 2016, compared to 33.74% that were running plays. The Ravens still have to look at who will play at the center position, but at least it looks like they are focusing on remedying the offensive line.