Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the best five offensive linemen would start this season, and he is clearly still trying to figure out who those five players are. Bryant McKinnie started at left tackle for the first time this preseason and Michael Oher shifted back to right tackle. Marshal Yanda did not suit up, so Bobbie Williams was at right guard instead. Kelechi Osemele was back at left guard. Along with veteran center Matt Birk, those six players have been routinely shuffled throughout the first-team offensive line this summer. Jah Reid was also expected to be in the mix, but then he strained his right calf in the final week of OTAs. Now, 17 days from the season opener, it looks as if McKinnie will begin the season at left tackle and Oher at right. However it shakes out, though, it is clear Osemele deserves one of the spots on the line. The second-round draft pick is strong and physically imposing at 6 feet 5 and 335 pounds, and he has pushed around defenders whether he has been at guard or at tackle, where he played most of the time in college. He has some communication wrinkles to be ironed out -- in his defense, Osemele is a rookie who has been learning two positions -- but the Ravens will be better off with his nastiness, physicality and athleticism on the starting offensive line. He showed off all three of those traits in the first quarter when he pulled from his left-guard position to the right end outside Oher to engage Jaguars left defensive end Jeremy Mincey. He stonewalled Mincey, helping spring running back Ray Rice for a 28-yard run. Sure, there have been some hiccups for Osemele, too. He committed a holding penalty Thursday, and he and McKinnie got mixed up on a stunt, allowing Jaguars defensive tackle Terrance Knighton to sack Joe Flacco on third down. He also got beat twice in pass protection in the win over the Atlanta Falcons two weeks ago. But of all the rookies, Osemele is most ready to contribute right now, and he has been one of the teams five best offensive linemen this summer. Even if he isnt starting by Week 1, you have to figure he will by midseason.
Baltimore Sun photo by Algerina Perna