On Pace to fill hole at right tackle

ravens

March 19, 2009|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

Orlando Pace could become the most prominent right tackle in Ravens history ... if he's healthy.

Injury issues appear to be the biggest question mark for Pace, who is scheduled to meet team officials today.

Pace, 33, a seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle, was released last week by the St. Louis Rams after missing 25 games over the past three seasons.

If the Ravens are satisfied with the results of his physical examination, they are expected to make a strong run at him. It would probably signal the end for Willie Anderson, whose departure would open up $2.9 million in salary-cap space.

Pace's agent did not return phone calls yesterday.

Still committed to developing Jared Gaither at left tackle, the Ravens would want to start Pace on the right side, a long-standing trouble spot.

The Ravens have had 13 linemen start at least one game at right tackle over the past 10 seasons. The list began with Harry Swayne in 1999 and continued through last season with Anderson.

The Ravens have tried to fill the void several ways. There was the return of Orlando Brown. There was the failed experiment with guard Edwin Mulitalo in 2002. And there were stopgaps like Ethan Brooks (who will be remembered more for his false starts than blocking), Kipp Vickers and Sammy Williams.

Only Tony Pashos has started an entire season at right tackle during this span.

But it's a gamble to address the need by signing a lineman over 30. The Ravens learned that with the Leon Searcy debacle.

In 2001, the team gave Searcy a $3 million signing bonus after the 31-year-old right tackle missed the entire previous season with a quadriceps injury. Then, in his first season with the Ravens, Searcy tore a tendon in his left arm during training camp, ending his season before it began.

If Pace becomes the Ravens' right tackle, he would bring a pedigree unlike any other at that position.

Pace went to seven straight Pro Bowls from 1999 to 2005 and blocked for three consecutive Most Valuable Players from 1999 to 2001 (quarterback Kurt Warner and running back Marshall Faulk).

Notes: : Tight end L.J. Smith will take his physical today. If he passes, the six-year veteran will sign a one-year, $1.5 million contract. The addition of Smith improves the Ravens' size inside the red zone. ... There has been speculation that the Ravens have interest in recently released Torry Holt. But the wide receiver remains out of the country on vacation. ... Ex-Ravens defensive back Corey Ivy agreed to a one-year deal with the Browns.

revolving door

A look at the 13 linemen who played right tackle in the past 10 years and their number of starts:

1999:: Everett Lindsay, 8; Harry Swayne, 6; Spencer Folau, 1; James Atkins, 1

2000:: Swayne, 13; Folau, 3

2001:: Kipp Vickers, 9; Sammy Williams, 7

2002:: Ethan Brooks, 13; Edwin Mulitalo, 3

2003:: Orlando Brown, 13; Brooks, 3

2004:: Brown, 13; Brooks, 3

2005:: Brown, 9; Tony Pashos, 7

2006:: Pashos, 16

2007:: Marshal Yanda, 12; Adam Terry, 4

2008:: Willie Anderson, 11; Terry, 5

Jamison Hensley

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