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Continuity on the offensive line a comfort for Joe Flacco

FootballJoe FlaccoBryant McKinnieNFL Pro BowlKelechi OsemeleSuper Bowl XLVII

When quarterback Joe Flacco lines up in the Ravens' backfield this fall, he'll be protected by four of the five offensive linemen who started in the Super Bowl.

Flacco threw three touchdown passes with no interceptions and was named the Most Valuable Player following the Ravens' victory over the San Francisco 49ers, taking advantage of the protection provided by his line.

With the Ravens retaining left offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie on a two-year deal worth up to $7 million, Flacco is excited about the continuity along the line. The only starter who's not returning is six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk, who retired this offseason, with Gino Gradkowski the front-runner to take over center in a competition with A.Q. Shipley.

"Yeah, it does," Flacco said when asked if he feels good about the pass blocking with McKinnie back. "I think every year we’ve been here, we’ve juggled the offensive line around a pretty good amount. And at some point or another during the middle of the season or come playoff time or all through preseason and at the beginning of the season, we’ve switched something or just made our starting line.

"So, I think the fact that we have a pretty good feel about who is going to be up there is definitely good for me, and the fact that they played so well together last year at the end of the season is definitely a big confidence booster.”

With McKinnie at left tackle, Michael Oher at right tackle, Kelechi Osemele playing left guard and Pro Bowl selection Marshal Yanda at right guard, the Ravens allowed just six sacks in four playoff victories.

The Ravens averaged 410.3 yards of total offense per game as Flacco had plenty of time to throw 11 touchdown passes and zero interceptions during the postseason.

"I want to pick up from there," McKinnie said after agreeing to terms. "I feel like we have a chance for a great year with me and K.O. on the left side."

awilson@baltsun.com

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FootballJoe FlaccoBryant McKinnieNFL Pro BowlKelechi OsemeleSuper Bowl XLVII
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