Chemistry playing out on Ravens' offensive line

Birk said key factor is members' penchant for hard work

January 11, 2012|By Edward Lee

When the Ravens signed left tackle Bryant McKinnie on Aug. 24, then added center Andre Gurode on Sept. 5, the moves confirmed a sense of flux and uncertainty for the offensive line.

But after a regular season in which the offensive line helped the offense finish the regular season ranked 10th in the NFL in rushing (1,996 yards), tied for 10th in rushing touchdowns (15), and tied for 12th in sacks allowed, starting tackles McKinnie and Michael Oher, starting guards Marshal Yanda and Ben Grubbs, starting center Matt Birk and Gurode have found a comfort level with one another and within the team’s zone-blocking scheme.

Birk remarked Monday at how much the offensive linemen have had to overcome in a span of less than five months.

“Well, from where we were a week before the start of the season, we’ve come a long way,” Birk said. “[We had] a couple pieces missing there during training camp, but I feel like we’ve gotten better as the season has gone on – certainly just the comfort level, chemistry, cohesion, whatever you want to call it. I think the biggest thing is we have five guys, really six guys, that have played a lot of football, kind of understand the game and have played long enough to where things have slowed down a little bit for them. So, when they go into a game or go into practice or go into a meeting, it’s about detailing their assignment instead of learning their assignment. And then we’re able to develop some chemistry pretty quickly, but it’s always a work in progress. Every week is a new challenge. You’re playing different defenses with different guys that like to do different things, different moves. So every week is a work in progress. It’s never, ever a finished product, and I think we understand that up front. We’re not the prettiest group of guys, maybe necessarily, but the one thing we do is we work hard. And we’ll come in here Wednesday in meetings and practice, and we’ll work.”

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