Rookie Ogden holds his own, again Packers' Dotson makes little headway vs. top pick

August 18, 1996|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

It's becoming easier to forget that Jonathan Ogden is a rookie playing a new position. Each time he flattens a lineman or repels a pass rusher, which happened often last night, the Ravens' first-round draft choice looks more like a first-rate professional.

An All-America tackle at UCLA, Ogden is making the switch to left guard look simpler with every snap. And though the Ravens may not win every game, he looks primed to win most of the battles.

A week earlier, he had dominated Ray Agnew of the New York Giants, blowing him off the line of scrimmage as if he were a defensive back. But this would be a truer test of Ogden's skills, a better read on how well he was making the transition.

These weren't the Giants.

These were the Green Bay Packers.

Surprisingly, perhaps, this wasn't much of a problem for Ogden.

The first series pretty much set the tone. He mixed it up with Green Bay's heavyweights and scored a decisive victory.

Ogden shoved one Packer aside on a sweep left by Leroy Hoard, and drove another in the opposite direction as fullback Carwell Gardner barreled up the middle for 14 yards and a first down. He stood up Green Bay's Santana Dotson at the line as Vinny Testaverde completed a 16-yarder to Ray Ethridge, and even took down Reggie White on a running play.

The drive ended without any points. Worse for the Ravens, the first half ended without a touchdown. But Testaverde was sacked only once and Baltimore averaged 4.1 yards a carry.

Ogden, 6 feet 8 and 318 pounds, usually was matched against Dotson, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackle who was signed with the Packers as a free agent. In four seasons, Dotson (6-5, 285) climbed to fourth on the Bucs' list of all-time leading sackers. In one half last night, he didn't lay a hand on Testaverde.

He didn't come close.

Ogden's work was finished by halftime, but his education will continue. Next week, the Ravens play in Buffalo, which has been known to line up a decent defensive lineman or two. Just the latest in a season's worth of challenges. But they are looking less formidable each week.

After the first exhibition game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Ogden spoke of the mistakes he made "here and there," and acknowledged that the NFL had proved to be much harder than college. But he also allowed himself the occasional, modest compliment, saying he played "OK" and handled himself "pretty well."

He did much better than that last night.

Not bad at all for a rookie in a new position.

Pub Date: 8/18/96

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