Blog Entry

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues

Posted on: September 4, 2011 7:16 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2011 7:20 pm

Posted by Ryan Wilson

If the Ravens can stay healthy they have as good a chance as any team in the AFC to make a Super Bowl run. But this is football and not ping pong; injuries are as much a part of the game as touchdowns and interceptions. And with the regular season four days away, Baltimore still has plenty of unanswered questions, mostly having to do with the lack of depth at key positions.

On Sunday, the team addressed one of their needs by signing five-time Pro Bowl center Andre Gurode, who lost his job in Dallas when he refused to restructure his $5.5 million 2011 salary. Gurode isn't nearly the player he was during most of his nine-year Cowboys career, but he doesn't have to be in Baltimore.

The 2011 Ravens

The Ravens signed him as insurance in case their other veteran center, Matt Birk, isn't yet fully recovered from August 3 knee surgery. Though general manager Ozzie Newsome sounded absolutely ecstactic when talking about the news publicly. "We just got better as a team.," he said. "To have a successful season, you have to have quality depth across the board. We just added great depth to the interior of our OL with Andre."

It's amazing to think that the Ravens, a team that was committed to building a formidable offensive line through the draft, has been reduced to searching through the free-agent lost-and-found bin for warm bodies to protect Joe Flacco and open up holes for Ray Rice.  Late last month, Baltimore signed Bryant McKinnie to play left tackle. The Vikings had released McKinnie earlier in the offseason because he was out of shape.

Since 2005, the team has taken seven o-linemen in the first three rounds and the results have been mixed. A quick draft recap:

2005: T Adam Terry, 2nd round
2006: C/G Chris Chester, 2nd round
2007: G Ben Grubbs, 1st round; G/T Marshall Yanda, 3rd round
2008: T Oniel Cousins, 3rd round
2009: T Michael Oher, 1st round
2010: T Jah Reid, 3rd round

Reid, Oher, Yanda and Grubbs are still with the team, and the last three are starters. That said, McKinnie was signed after Cousins flopped as the Ravens' right tackle (and was subsequently cut), and Oher remained unimpressive at left tackle. The plan is for Oher to move to right tackle (where he's previously had some success) and install McKinnie at left tackle. The other players listed above either weren't re-signed once their contracts expired, or in the case of Terry, released.

Baltimore also has issues at wide receiver and quarterback. They traded for Lee Evans after rookie Torrey Smith proved he wasn't ready to be the No. 2. (And rightly so -- he's a rookie who didn't have the benefit of OTAs or minicamps; no idea why coach John Harbaugh thought it was even a possibility.) And he'll team with Anquan Boldin and, well, that's it. The Ravens have Ray Rice, who was second on the team in receptions last season behind Boldin, and much will be expected of second-year tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta.

A much bigger concern is the backup quarterback. As it stands, rookie sixth-rounder Tyrod Taylor won the job by default. We'll have to wait and see if Newsome brings in a just-released veteran (Trent Edwards, Josh McCown and Dan Orlovsky are all looking for work), or risks sticking with Taylor. Flacco hasn't missed a start in his three-year NFL career, but without him the Ravens go from double-digit wins to a staring 6-10 right in the face.

A year ago, Marc Bulger dutifully held down that role but he retired this offseason. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron recently called Bulger to gauge his interest in returning to the Ravens and he was kindly rebuffed, at least for the time being. The Carroll County Times' Aaron Wilson tweeted Saturday that "Bulger has decided to stay retired at this time, but told Ravens he would be interested in case of emergency if Flacco got hurt."

It's a nice sentiment, but it's not exactly an ideal set up. The last thing a team wants to do after losing its franchise quarterback for any amount a time, is bring in a guy off the street to start in less than a week. Even one who is intimately familiar with the offense. There's the matter of being in shape, not to mention developing timing and chemistry with the receivers.

For now, though, Bulger's staying put and the Ravens are headed into the 2011 season with a couple of o-line veterans let go by their previous teams and a backup quarterback who has been in the NFL for a grand total of six weeks.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 16, 2012 4:13 pm

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 26, 2011 5:33 am
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Since: Nov 28, 2011
Posted on: November 29, 2011 12:11 am
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Since: Oct 21, 2011
Posted on: October 23, 2011 8:07 pm
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Since: Sep 24, 2008
Posted on: September 19, 2011 5:30 pm

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues

Tribe Fan can't help it.....The days after the Ravens convincingly smacked the Steelers around you'll see he was nowhere to be found. But then again when you fly a William and Mary flag I guess you have such an exciting life since that school is so good, and ah, and well, um, ah. 

Oh yeah...Marine Science and Colonial History.

Now there's something to make ya forget about football.   

Since: Oct 11, 2006
Posted on: September 19, 2011 10:58 am

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues

I keep track of all of the TROLLS that spew rhetoric on the good weeks for their teams and then are NO WHERE to be found on weeks they get their butts kicked. Was looking for you last week but you were no where to be found. A TRUE FAIR WEATHER FAN.

Since: Jan 7, 2007
Posted on: September 6, 2011 8:41 am

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues

Doesn't this article and your statement state the obvious? Anyteam who has multiple injuries to their starting lineup is due for trouble, correct me if I am wrong.

Since: Dec 3, 2007
Posted on: September 5, 2011 11:38 pm

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues

Sonic:  Tribe Fan must be actually a Closet RAVENS fan because he just can't seem to keep his comments off of all of the Ravens topics. Here is an idea troll, go to the Steelers forums/threads and talk about all of their signings.  Quite sick of seeing your negative pithy rhetoric on every Ravens thread.

Interesting that you are "keeping track of me"... a bit flattering.  I can't say I noticed you before, sorry.

Isn't it "Steelers Week" in Baltimore?  In Pittsburgh, it's the "season opener" and only step one on the way to the journey.  It happens to be against the Ravens, which makes it a bit more interesting than normal.  That might be why I'm "around" this week commenting on the "Ravens boards". 

We BOTH know that this week is more important to the Ravens fans than the Steelers fans.  Go ahead and lie by denying that.  Tell me "it's only week one".  If the Ravens win, it might be parade-worthy.  If Pittsburgh wins, it's back to business and on to week 2 and the Ravens fans will be in "must win" mode already.

The Steelers didn't have many "signings"... the team was near perfect going into the short off-season.  I just hope they aren't "too old" or "distracted by the Harrison controversy in the off-season"... or, "Super Bowl hangover".  Super Bowl hangover really sucks... let me tell me.  You'll have to trust me on that one!
Also, quite frankly, the Steelers boards are boring for the most part.  It's more fun to tinker with the boys in purple. 

Since: Dec 3, 2007
Posted on: September 5, 2011 11:17 pm

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues

poe:  You're right (sort of)...I was laughing at you, not with you  LOL

I'm not laughing.  You are a simpleton.

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: September 5, 2011 6:38 pm

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues

The dropping of Gurode was more than salary saving. They have last year's UDFA center, Costa, who has played better than Gurode in camp so why keep Gurode? Last year's offensive line was sadly among the worst the Cowboys have fielded in a couple of decades. Cutting three of the starters from last year appears to be coach Garrett's statement that he would rather have young, hard-working players improving than veterans resting on their prior achievements. It remains to be seen if he is right.

In general this year is a good one for releasing those marginal veterans. With the drop in salary cap and the emphasis on quick free agency teams do not have the luxury of waiting until year three or four to play their rookies. They need to gain value from them in the beginning. The Ravens seem to believe they are knocking at the door of a championship with their signing of some of those same veterans. Again, it remains to be seen if they are right.

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