Jonathan Ogden had studied enough film of Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Chester McGlockton to understand the challenge that awaited him. Going onto the Memorial Stadium field and winning the matchup with the All-Pro was another story.
Throughout yesterday's 19-14, era-opening victory for the Ravens, Ogden absorbed his share of punishment and dished out a few shots of his own while taking on Oakland's gang of three. Aside from the 325-pound McGlockton, Ogden had to contend with backups Nolan Harrison and 325-pound veteran Jerry Ball, especially in the second half as the Raiders' defense wore down in the face of the Ravens' no-huddle attack.
Ogden, the first draft pick in Ravens history, spent the summer adjusting to playing left guard, after dominating at the collegiate level as the best left tackle UCLA has ever produced. As a smile cut through the exhaustion on his face yesterday, Ogden sounded satisfied with his baptism.
"I faced some good players out there today, real good players. I think I held my own," Ogden said. "That's all I was really hoping for against a guy like Chester McGlockton. He's quite strong on film. He's a lot stronger in person."
Ogden's performance mirrored that of the team's offensive line. He struggled early, then gained momentum as the game wore on and as the Ravens' superior conditioning began to show.
Ogden had problems with his run blocking at times during the preseason, and those shortcomings resurfaced periodically yesterday. He sometimes failed to sustain his blocks after hitting his targets too high. His pass blocking, unquestionably his strong suit coming out of UCLA, was impressive for the most part.
McGlockton held the upper hand early, especially on the play that stalled the Ravens' opening drive in Oakland territory. On second-and-10 at the Oakland 34, McGlockton beat Ogden to the inside, leaving Ogden no choice but to grab him and take a holding penalty to avoid a sack on Vinny Testaverde. Two plays later, Ogden failed to pick up a blitzing linebacker as Testaverde's pass fell incomplete. The Ravens were forced to punt.
Later in the half, McGlockton gave way to Richardson for a series. Richardson introduced himself to Ogden with a pass rush that began with a forearm to the chin. Ogden's head snapped back, but he held his ground.
"That was his welcome-to-the-NFL shot," said Shirrel Ogden, Jonathan's father. "Jonathan had some monsters coming at him today. He was telling me the other night that he knows Chester is going to come after him. He just hoped Chester wasn't in game shape."
Spurred by the no-huddle strategy in the second half, the Ravens' offense regrouped, and so did Ogden. Oakland pass rushers were growing weary, so they had a hard time getting to the quarterback with Odgen's sturdy, 6-foot-8, 320-pound frame standing firm. And the second half featured his best run blocks of the day.
His block on defensive end Aundray Bruce helped the Ravens take the lead. Lining up at left end in the Ravens' jumbo goal-line package, Ogden sealed off Bruce as running back Earnest Byner dived into the end zone, giving the Ravens a 19-14 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
"I knew he [Byner] was either coming inside or outside of me, and I had to put him [Bruce] on the ground somehow," Ogden said.
"I probably didn't perform as high as my expectations. But I'll take a win without giving up any sacks. I did decently on my run blocking and my pass blocking, so I really can't complain."
Said Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda: "Jonathan was baptized today and he did an excellent job."