Jonathan Ogden will leave big shoes to fill


December 28, 2007|By Mike Preston | The Baltimore Sun

If the Ravens' game against Pittsburgh on Sunday is indeed the last game for left offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, it will bring to a close the career of the greatest technical player in the team's brief history.

The Ravens have always been middle linebacker Ray Lewis' team, and deservedly so. Lewis was the No. 26 overall player drafted in the first round of 1996, chosen 22 players behind Ogden.

Lewis has become the team's emotional, spiritual and physical leader and was the game's most dominating force during the Ravens' 2000 Super Bowl season.

Lewis would have been a great player even without those two big defensive tackles in front of him named Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams, but they made him more effective.

Ogden never had such help. Every game for 12 years, he has been called on to block the other team's best pass rusher. Very seldom did the Ravens help Ogden block on the edge.

Each week, Ravens coach Brian Billick has had the comfort of knowing he didn't have to game plan for great defensive ends such as Bruce Smith or Tony Brackens.

Ogden has always been so technically sound and physically gifted. At 6 feet 9 and 345 pounds, he often played point guard during pickup basketball games early in his career.

Ogden has always had amazing quickness. His long arms have kept opposing linemen away from his body, and his long legs have forced players to run around him because he can cover so much ground.

And Ogden can knock most players silly with his punch. Few have ever run through him. In the past couple of weeks, I've heard rare criticism of Ogden, about his not playing hard and how he didn't deserve to be in the Pro Bowl.

He had a legitimate injury this season, and it was hard for him to meet the standards he set so high for himself.

But during the past 12 years, it has been a pleasure not only to watch the most technically sound player in team history but also possibly the best offensive linemen to ever play the game.

Ogden has set a standard that might not be matched again.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.