Ravens' Mulitalo may shift to tackle

Team might move guard if free-agent fix fails

May 16, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Rather than grapple through the scrapheap, the Ravens are considering looking in-house to solve their hole at right tackle.

Edwin Mulitalo, who has spent the past two seasons as the team's starting left guard, will likely switch to right tackle if the Ravens are unable to find a quality player in a relatively barren free-agent market at that position.

Mulitalo was a left tackle for two seasons at the University of Arizona before switching to guard as a rookie in 1999. He has played guard ever since.

The Ravens, though, have thought about moving Mulitalo back to his college position at various stages of his career. He could get some light work at tackle during the Ravens' passing camp next week, though linemen do not have to attend.

Casey Rabach, the Ravens' 2001 third-round draft pick who did not play a down last year, would replace Mulitalo at guard.

"We talked about [moving Mulitalo] last year some, but with signing Leon [Searcy], that kind of put it on the back burner," said Ozzie Newsome, Ravens senior vice president of football operations. "So based on what's available in the market now, and us knowing Edwin, it is something that we have under consideration. I think he is amenable to giving it a try, knowing he could go back to guard if it doesn't work out.

"You could say it is a good possibility that he will get some work at right tackle next week."

The Ravens thought they had their right tackle position solidified when Marcus Spears agreed to a deal two weeks ago, but Spears backed out of the agreement and re-signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Since then, the team has been in negotiations with free agent Roman Oben, and while a deal appears close, Oben might be considered more of a backup at this point in his career. Oben, 29, lost his starting job late last season and was cut two years into a four-year contract with the Cleveland Browns.

Mulitalo, at 6 feet 3, 340 pounds, has the size and agility to make the transition.

"The biggest reason is his college background," offensive line coach Jim Colletto said. "He was a tackle in college, and really did not play guard until he came here.

"Had it been something like taking a guy that had been a tackle and putting him at center, which is a big difference, that would be a major problem."

The Ravens may also move Mike Flynn to guard and Rabach to center, where he played at the University of Wisconsin in 1999. Rabach has been one of the mainstays at the Ravens' complex as part of the team's off-season workout program.

"Of all the guys, and there have been some guys working hard in there, from my guys, Bennie [Anderson] and Casey have really done a great job," Colletto said. "They've been there every day. Casey has really improved his strength from last year. And it's going to make a big difference. We are going to give him a chance to see what he can do."

Meanwhile, the Ravens will continue to have training camp at Western Maryland College after agreeing to a three-year contract.

Western Maryland College has been the only training camp site for the Ravens since the team moved from Cleveland in 1996. More than 100,000 fans attended last year's camp, bringing an estimated $1 million to Carroll County.

Training camp is scheduled to open July 26, with an intrasquad scrimmage set for Aug. 2, followed by a mock game the next day.

NOTES: Free-agent end Rob Burnett visited the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday and is expected to visit the New England Patriots and possibly the Washington Redskins over the next week. The Dolphins have expressed a strong interest in Burnett. ... Mulitalo, Rabach, quarterback Chris Redman and Flynn are leaving for Iceland today through Sunday as part of a fan promotion in conjunction with Icelandair Web site. ... Coach Brian Billick will take part in the team's annual high school football coaches clinic Saturday at Ravens Stadium. For more information, call 301-272-2461. Redskins coach Steve Spurrier also is expected to participate.

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