Slaughter thrown into Ravens’ blocking mix right away

Street Talk Slaughter thrown into Ravens’ blocking mix right away

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WESTMINSTER — A few days ago, Chad Slaughter was pouring concrete with little hope of playing football again after sitting out an entire season last year while waiting in vain for his phone to ring.

Now, the former Oakland Raiders lineman is starting at left tackle for the injury-riddled Baltimore Ravens.

Because starting tackles Jared Gaither and Adam Terry are sidelined with sprained ankles and rookie third-round draft pick Oniel Cousins sprained his medial collateral ligament Thursday morning, Slaughter lined up at left tackle with the first offense during his initial day on the job.

Signed to a one-year contract for the veteran minimum with no signing bonus Wednesday night, the 6-foot-8, 340-pound former Alcorn State (Miss.) standout became the latest bandage applied to a gaping wound upfront.

"My head is still spinning 100 miles per hour," Slaughter said. "I’m just here to help any way I can. I felt like a rookie actually.

"I haven’t been in pads in a minute, so I was having trouble remembering plays, as is usual for the first day. Overall, I thought it went good."

With Slaughter playing left tackle, former practice squad lineman Mike Kracalik shifted back to right tackle with the first-string offense.

Slaughter, who has started six out of 43 career games, looked quick out of his stance in team drills. Most of his bulk is in his upper body as he has incredibly skinny legs for an NFL lineman. He needs to do a better job of sticking with his blocks, but his footwork appears sound.

"He looked pretty good," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He must have been bending his legs. He moved around pretty well. It’s good to have him here, and he’s a guy who has been in this system.

"He’s played left tackle in the NFL before, and the way rosters are set up now there are some good players still floating around out there. Maybe things happen for a reason. We’re fortunate to have him in here."

Slaughter, 30, arrived in Westminster on Wednesday morning for a tryout, passed his physical, signed a contract and attended meetings to try to get up to speed in a hurry.

He just didn’t realize it was going to be warp speed because of the Ravens’ dire need for depth

"Oh yeah, that was a rabbit out of the hat," Slaughter said. "They told me it was going to be a little fast for me. They gave me this playbook, and the next thing you know I was out there with the first-team."

Slaughter acknowledged that he had some problems with his previous agent and didn’t get many looks from teams after being cut last year by Oakland.

"You can’ t really blame that on him," said Slaughter, who has prior stints with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets before signing on with the Raiders’ practice squad in 2001. "It will make you hungry again. You know [laying concrete] is hard work, too.

"It’s just that you’re not in competition with anyone, but it’s a pretty easy transition. I’ve been doing this for a while."

The Ravens were unable to sign former Kansas City Chiefs starter John Welbourn, who tried out Wednesday along with former Cleveland Browns tackle Kelly Butler.

Contract talks abruptly broke off when Welbourn demanded guaranteed money and the Ravens declined to offer him more than a veteran minimum contract of $730,000.

So, Welbourn left the team hotel and went back to the airport.

"John would have been a good fit for us, but it wasn’t a good fit for him right now," Harbaugh said.

The Ravens cut undrafted Eastern Kentucky rookie tackle Sean Dumford to make room for Slaughter.

Besides Cousins’ injury, converted basketball player Joe Reitz is out with a minor shoulder injury. The left tackle is expected to return soon.

That left the Ravens with rookie David Hale at left tackle and undrafted former Illinois State lineman Isaiah Wiggins, who’s more of a guard, as the backup right tackle.

One option the Ravens could eventually exercise is shifting right guard Marshal Yanda back to his old right tackle spot with center Jason Brown moving back to guard and Chris Chester being promoted to the starting lineup at center.

The Ravens aren’t ruling out signing another offensive lineman and are rumored to be interested in Jacksonville Jaguars left tackle Khalif Barnes, who is competing for a starting job with Richard Collier. It’s unlikely that Barnes will become available this early in the preseason.

That leaves the Ravens to consider the relative merits of free agents like Stockar McDougle, Mike Rosenthal, Jordan Black, Nat Dorsey, Todd Steussie and Fred Miller.

Recently retired All-Pro left tackle Jonathan Ogden is definitely not an option as he has no regrets about his decision to hang up his cleats. And Kyle Turley is planning to stay retired, too.

"If we find a guy, then, yes," Harbaugh said. "But you’ve got to find the right guy in the right circumstances to bring him in."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors. 

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