Jonathan Ogden guarded in optimism


Offensive lineman blocks out doubts about new Ravens role

April 22, 1996|By Mike Preston | The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore Ravens offensive line coach Kirk Ferentz was watching UCLA's offense when he put the video on rewind to watch Jonathan Ogden again.

"There was one play where he was about 15 yards downfield and then he starts driving the free safety further down the field," said Ferentz. "He does it so easily that it never occurs to you that he is 6-8 and weighs 318 pounds. He's so fluid and good at what he does that he lulls you to sleep."

Ogden's athleticism is why the club made him the No. 1 pick in Ravens history Saturday, and why it believes he will have an easy transition to playing left guard.

Ogden, the No. 4 overall pick in the draft, made his first visit to Baltimore as a Raven yesterday, and answered questions about his parents, childhood days in Washington, D.C., future as a Olympic shot-putter and other early-round draft choices.

But how about playing left guard, big fella?

"I've been a tackle forever," said Ogden. "I really don't care about playing tackle right away, just as long as I play. But down the road a year or two, I hope to be playing tackle. Either right or left."

The great experiment begins once Ogden reports to summer camp in July. It's a whole new world.

"The key is getting him the repetitions," said Ferentz. "The blocking techniques are basically the same, but he has to get a new perspective on the quarterback."

That could be the biggest difference. Tackles are basically isolated and one of their first priorities is to take away the inside pressure and force the rusher outside and around the quarterback.

Guards work in limited space. The route to the quarterback is shortened considerably from playing tackle to guard.

"You really have to get your position faster, like squaring your shoulders and turning your hips," said Ogden. "When you play guard, I think the quarterbacks set up and throw more from behind you than at tackle."

Guards also tend to see bigger linemen. Tackles often face smaller linebackers or finesse or speed pass rushers. At guard, Ogden will face bull rushers whose main job is to collapse the pocket.

He will get a steady diet of players built like the Pittsburgh Steelers' Joel Steed and the Arizona Cardinals' Eric Swann.

"Jonathan is built like a basketball power forward, but he is very strong," said Ferentz. "I remember the first time I saw him in shorts I didn't think he would be very strong, but once we tested him on the weights he pumped out 225 pounds about 30 times. He is stronger than he looks."

Ogden may have to be a little smarter, too. Guards have more responsibilities than tackles, especially on passing plays where they may have to check inside or outside linebackers, or help double-team nose guards or defensive tackles.

Pulling should be no problem for Ogden. UCLA ran counter plays at least six times a game pulling both guard and tackle.

"He's an athlete," said Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda. "He runs as well as any lineman I've seen in college football. Plus, the smaller area in which he has to work now might help him because he is such an athlete."

Ogden will start next to Tony Jones, a longtime fixture at left tackle. Jones said Saturday he'd ask to be traded after he learned the team had drafted Ogden.

On Sunday morning, Jones had calmed down but said he wanted to play in Baltimore for only the first of the two years remaining on his contract.

"I'm still warm about it," said Jones. "I don't think anything will get done this season as far as a trade. I'll be in Baltimore next week for the camp, and I'll work hard. I don't want to cause any distractions or commotions."

Ozzie Newsome, the team's director of operations, said the team had no plans to trade Jones anytime soon.

Owner Art Modell handled the Jones situation with humor.

"The lesson we've learned in all of this is that we've got to call Tony Jones before we draft somebody," said Modell.

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