Large men, big expectations Top pick Ogden adds heft to promising group of five averaging 6-5, 309 pounds

August 31, 1996|By Kevin Langbaum | Kevin Langbaum,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The Ravens' offensive line blends youth with experience and size with agility, and is expected to be one of the team's bright spots this season.

Tackles Tony Jones and Orlando Brown, center Steve Everitt and guard Wally Williams return from the 1994 line that allowed a league-low 14 sacks and cleared the way for running back Leroy Hoard to make the Pro Bowl.

Add in this year's top draft pick, Jonathan Ogden, a tackle at XTC UCLA who will start at left guard for the Ravens, and the starting five averages 6 feet 5 and 309 pounds.

For perspective, consider that Everitt, listed at 290 pounds, is the lightweight of the bunch.

"We've got to be one of the biggest lines in the league," Everitt said. "And we can run.

'With the exception of Jon, everyone has played together for a few years. We know each other real well. Jon's fit in perfectly. We know what it takes. It's not like we haven't done it before. It's just a matter of getting back there."

Williams is moving from left guard to right guard this year and also can play center. Brown is a 6-7, 340-pound behemoth at right tackle and Everitt was a first-round draft pick in 1993.

"We've jelled quick," said Jones, the left tackle and captain of the group. "We played well against some good teams in the preseason."

Jones, entering his ninth NFL season, is versatile and durable. He has started 99 consecutive regular-season games, playing right guard and both tackle positions.

"He's the ringleader," Williams said of Jones. "He has a grasp of what's going on. When times get tough you look at him and he just gives us a vote of confidence."

The 6-8, 320-pound Ogden is the big question mark. He has to adjust to the NFL while adjusting to a new position.

"There's a lot of pressure on a No. 1 draft pick," Williams said. "He's done what has been expected. He can only get better. He's just basically scratched the surface."

Said Everitt: "He's ready to roll. He's been getting better and better every week."

Jeff Blackshear, a 6-6, 323-pound guard acquired from the Seattle Seahawks in March, and Herman Arvie, another 300-pounder, are the top two reserves.

Scouting report

Strengths: The line is very big and consists mostly of veterans who are familiar playing with each other.

Weaknesses: Jonathan Ogden has never played in an NFL game and is playing a new position.

Key to success: If Ogden can live up to his billing and the veterans play to expectations, the line should be very strong.

Pub Date: 8/31/96

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