The Baltimore Ravens have put together one of the best offensive lines in the league over the past few years, particularly with found strength at the tackle positions in Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown. But Marshal Yanda had long been one of their best players on the entire team, and he announced his retirement earlier this offseason.
That was a big loss for the unit, and he has already lost a ton of weight since then, which is a common theme for major offensive linemen once they put their playing days behind them—see Alan Faneca. The lineman that they signed as a veteran candidate to compete for his spot is also shedding the pounds as he aspires to return to a starting lineup.
That would be D.J. Fluker, a former first-round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers in 2013. He started 14 of 14 games played for the Seattle Seahawks last season, at right guard, but they elected to move on from him this offseason, signing, among others, B.J. Finney.
The Ravens’ website lists him at 6’5” and 342 pounds, which is quite heavy for a guard. While he would not reveal what he weighs now, he did tell the site that he went from an XXXXL to an XXL in shirt size. On Instragram, he said, “the proof is in the salad, not the pudding”, accompanied by a video/photo collage of a trim-looking Fluker jogging up an inclined entryway to a parking garage.
“Oh man, I’ve been busting my tail. This summer, I’ve got to get it. I don’t work this hard just to look this good”, he said a couple of months back. At the time, he mentioned an aspiration to get down to 330 pounds while affirming that he was at 345.
He figures to be the frontrunner for the job, as his competitors are inexperienced, led by second-year former mid-round draft pick Ben Powers, as well as a pair of rookies in Ben Bredeson and Tyre Phillips. Fluker has 88 starts in his career across both guard and tackle across the past seven seasons, starting in all but four games for which he has been active.
Matt Skura returns as the team’s starting center, with Bradley Bozeman having secured the left guard position last year. Among those who will be competing to round out their depth chart is R.J. Prince, whom you might remember as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018, spending that season on the practice squad.