Earlier today the Ravens concluded their ninth voluntary OTA
practice and the final one in front of the media. The team will return to the
field tomorrow in Owings Mills in a private session before starting a mandatory
minicamp on Tuesday.
As expected, many veterans who have solidified their
starting roles were not present but many players on the expanded 90-man roster
are fighting for starting spots or even their jobs.
Even though these practices are voluntary, it doesn’t
necessarily mean that just anyone can just blow them off. In the case of Jah Reid, an unproven second-year
player has a potential staring left guard spot staring at him in the face.
When Ben Grubbs vacated the position via free agency, the
Ravens knew they needed options at left guard. They selected Kelechi Osemele, who played tackle at
Iowa State but who could be an effective guard in the NFL.
The battle for left guard will undoubtedly be one talked
about throughout training camp but little progress has been made thus far, with
the Ravens wrapping up voluntary OTA’s tomorrow.
During the first week of OTA’s, both Reid and Osemele split
repetitions with the projected staring offensive line. The following week, Reid wasn’t present
and Osemele immediately left the field on the second day with a minor
Since then, both players haven’t seen the field but at least
Osemele has been there to watch plays and interact with coaches – meanwhile, Reid
has been nowhere to be found.
The work ethic of these players isn’t being questioned (at
least publicly) because these practices are voluntary but when it comes to
earning a starting spot, actions speak louder than words. In this case, showing
Offensive Line coach Andy Moeller how hard you’re working is better than not
being at the facility at all.
Osemele doesn’t show any signs of being injured and
regardless of what it is, there is no problem with the Ravens training staff
being overly cautious this early in the year.
When asked what he could do today, Osemele said, “I did
mostly rehab and then I came out and watched the guys and got the mental reps”.
Turning mental reps into physical reps may happen sooner if
Reid was available to practice and start to challenge Osemele.
There is no reason to make a huge deal out of two guys not
participating in voluntary OTA’s but at the same time you have to question how
smart not practicing is for each as they try to secure a starting spot over one
The job will be won on the field during the Ravens preseason
games but doing whatever you can to favorably put yourself ahead of your
competition in the eyes of your Head Coach and Offensive Line Coach just seems
like good business.
Even if Reid knows the playbook like the back of his hand,
he doesn’t have a starting job and should use his knowledge to his advantage to
beat out Osemele.
Why wouldn’t Osemele brush off a minor injury and
participate in non-contact drills if his competition isn’t around? Knowing what
the team has already invested in you, showing that initiative from Day 1 could
go a long way.
Maybe not all people are the same but if you want a
promotion, typically doing whatever is necessary in front of your superiors is
a good place to start.
Regardless, the player that performs the best on the field
throughout training camp will win the job. In the meantime, Reid or Osemele
need to at least prove why they should be the one to start a preseason game
over the other for the chance to gain the upper hand against opposing starters.