Combine notes: Harbaugh says re-signing Yanda is 'major issue' on O-line

Team might draft pass rusher because of uncertainty with Kindle

February 24, 2011|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

INDIANAPOLIS —

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he has "one major issue" with the offensive line this offseason — re-signing Marshal Yanda.

"That's going to be a priority for us," Harbaugh said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Yanda, the Ravens' most versatile offensive lineman, is expected to be an unrestricted free agent when the new collective bargaining agreement is signed. A third-round pick in 2007, he started at right guard in 2009 and at right tackle in 2010.

"I think he's a good player obviously, a very good player," Harbaugh said. "He's one of my favorite guys. He knows that. As a coach, you want those guys back. Other than that, we should be in pretty good shape. I think the foundation is your offensive line on offense, no doubt, your quarterback and your offensive line is where it starts."

Unlike Yanda, the Ravens don't expect an immediate signing of fullback Le'Ron McClain. Harbaugh said he expected McClain to test the free-agent market.

McClain, who led the Ravens in rushing in 2008, campaigned for more carries during the offseason and talked about wanting more at the end of the season. Last season, he had 28 carries for 85 yards and no touchdowns.

"I'd like to have Le'Ron signed right now," Harbaugh said, "but I think he's interested to see what the market's going to bear for him."

Ravens remain unsure about Kindle

The Ravens are likely still in the market to add a pass rusher in the draft because Sergio Kindle's future remains uncertain.

Kindle is planning to see two doctors over the next couple of weeks in an attempt to get cleared for contact. The Ravens' top draft pick in 2010, Kindle didn't play as a rookie because he fractured his skull after falling down two flights of stairs in July.

"I'm an optimistic guy," Harbaugh said. "I've got my fingers crossed. I'm very, very hopeful. But there's no way to know."

Kindle has increased his workouts to four times a week at a training facility in suburban Dallas.

"[Kindle's injury] has to do with the brain and how it heals," Harbaugh said. "He'll be in the doctors' hands. I'm for Sergio's long-term health, that comes first. If that gets resolved, then I'm for Sergio rushing the passer and playing for the Ravens, but the long-term health thing is the most important."

Talking to offensive linemen

The Ravens have been doing their homework on the offensive linemen in the draft.

Team officials have met with Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi, Mississippi State offensive tackle Derek Sherrod, Baylor guard Danny Watkins, Connecticut guard Zach Hurd and Penn State center-guard Stefen Wisniewski at the combine. They also spoke with Boston College tackle Anthony Castonzo at the Senior Bowl.

Carimi caused the biggest stir on the first day of the combine. "I'm physically stronger and have more career starts and better knowledge of the game than any other tackle out there," he said. "That's why I'm the No. 1 tackle out there."

'Sturdy branch'

Harbaugh hopes all NFL coaches will have their own "coaching trees" like that of Philadelphia's Andy Reid.

Harbaugh apparently has already claimed Rex Ryan as one of his own, but not without taking a lighthearted jab at the hefty coach.

"That's a big branch," Harbaugh said with a smile. "That's a sturdy branch. Sorry, Rex."

Ryan served as defensive coordinator for one year under Harbaugh before becoming the Jets' head coach.

Ryan guarantees Super Bowl win

Ryan is promising a Super Bowl victory next season after his team lost in the AFC championship game the past two seasons.

“I believe this is the year we’re going to do it,” said Ryan, the Ravens' defensive coordinator from 2005 to 2008. “I believe this is the year we’re going to win the Super Bowl. The fact is, I thought we’d win it the first two years.

“I guarantee we’ll win it this year.”

End zone

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