With the Baltimore Ravens adopting a run-heavy approach on offense this season, it stands to reason that their offensive line is coming into focus right now with an emphasis toward excellence in that area. While they have most of their line already in place, Head Coach John Harbaugh has declared the left guard spot an “open position” heading into training camp.
Which is interesting, because it’s not a case, such as at inside linebacker or outside linebacker, where the team actually lost anybody. In fact, they have two players already on the roster who have been primary starters there.
Alex Lewis was drafted a few years ago in the fourth round the same time the Ravens took Ronnie Stanley in the first. He was the starter for most of his rookie season, but has dealt with a lot of injuries since. James Hurst ended up starting at the position last year. Hurst has been something of a utility man for the team, capable of playing all five positions.
Yet neither of them have been the one working there throughout the spring. Instead, it’s been Jermaine Eluemenor, who was a mid-late-round pick a few years back, has been the lineman primarily lining up at left guard so far heading into training camp. But that won’t necessarily mean much come late July.
“James Hurst started there last season, but right now that job is still very much open. Jermaine Eluemenor took the first-team reps during the offseason practices”, a video on the team’s website noted, “and though the Ravens still have Hurst, they also have Alex Lewis, and then fourth-rounder Ben Powers out of Oklahoma. Nobody is running away with the competition at this point, and the Ravens are eager to see who shines once the pads come on during training camp”.
Outside of Stanley at left tackle, the Ravens’ other starters along the offensive line are Matt Skura at center, of course All-Pro Marshal Yanda at left guard, who signed an extension earlier this offseason, and Orlando Brown, Jr. at right tackle, who was drafted last year.
They do have a good base along the offensive line, in other words, with just one hole to fill, and a number of potential options toward that end. Similar to the Pittsburgh Steelers at the right tackle position, where they legitimately have multiple worthy candidates.
“Right now we don’t have a leader”, Harbaugh said of the battle for left guard. “It would be James if there was anybody, but that’s an open position” heading into training camp. Whoever it is better polish up on their run-blocking because they will need it plowing ahead of Gus Edwards and Mark Ingram.