From the outside looking in, something doesn’t feel quite right about the Ravens offensive line.
After the 2012 NFL Draft we heard about various combinations of offensive linemen to solidify the front and offset the loss of Ben Grubbs. Ozzie Newsome & Co. spent second and fourth round draft picks on guards Kelechi Osemele and Gino Gradkowski. The team quickly informed us all that the combatants for the left guard position would be Osemele and 2011 draft pick Jah Reid.
Enter veteran guard Bobbie Williams.
The 35-year-old Williams is a bulldozer and now sits atop the depth charts at left guard entering training camp. So much for that competition between the youngsters.
Yesterday we learned that the competition could include yet another newcomer – Eric Steinbach formerly of the Bengals and Browns. The Ravens reported interest in Steinbach, a first alternate Pro Bowler from 2008, may simply be part of the team’s plan to assemble the best offensive line possible. The more qualified applicants the better are their chances of filling the Grubbs void.
But could the interest in Steinbach be a smoke signal?
Most would concur that locks to make the team are: Bryant McKinnie, Bobbie Williams, Matt Birk, Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, Jah Reid, Kelechi Osemele and Gino Gradkowski. That’s eight players and in all likelihood nine is the top end number for offensive linemen.
Others in the mix include T Ramon Harewood, veteran G/C Tony Wragge and G Justin Boren.
Bringing in Steinbach could mean any one of a few things:
McKinnie didn’t participate in OTA’s and the party line was that the team was more interested in McKinnie’s conditioning and weight management than they were in him trotting around at half speed in a tee-shirt and shorts.
Could the truth be that they really aren’t sure about the aloof left tackle and the last thing they wanted was an OTA injury? Maybe then Oher flips over to left tackle while Reid and Harewood and possibly Osemele duke it out on the right.
Might adding Steinbach mean that offensive line coach Andy Moeller is considering kicking Yanda out to right tackle and Oher to left? Steinbach could then slide into Yanda’s vacated right guard position.
Is Matt Birk ok? Steinbach is a versatile player who does have some experience at center.
Is Bobbie Williams ok? Despite being signed to a two year deal for $2.925 million including an $800,000 signing bonus, let’s not forget that he is coming off a serious ankle injury. Are the Ravens worried that Williams can’t go the distance?
Or lastly, could it simply be that the team wants to give a quality veteran a look to improve depth?
These are the questions and the battles that training camp is made for.