Now that veteran offensive tackle Eric Winston has ageed to a one-year contract with the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, any lingering speculation about a potential reunion with Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak can finally be put to rest.
The Ravens never pursued Winston, who started at right tackle for Kubiak with the Houston Texans. That was telling, given his connections to Kubiak and Ravens quarterbacks coach Rick Dennison, who coached Winston as offensive line coach for the Texans.
Winston didn't draw especially high grades for his work the last few seasons with the Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs. And his reputation as a locker-room lawyer because of his work as president of the NFL Players Association hasn't made Winston an easy sell to some in NFL management.
"Season finally starts for me today!" Winston wrote on Twitter. "Looking forward to chasing a ring with the Seahawks!! Time go to work!"
The Ravens are banking on Rick Wagner, their fifth-round draft pick last year from Wisconsin, settling into the job. Wagner got off to a rough start last season when he allowed three sacks to Denver Broncos pass rusher Shaun Phillips when he was forced into action after Michael Oher sprained his ankle.
Since that tough initiation into the NFL, Wagner has built his confidence, improved his technique and had a good offseason in the weight room. He's improved to a point where he's drawn praise from Kubiak and offensive line coach Juan Castillo.
Whether Wagner is truly ready for this job won't be known until he faces elite defensive ends and outside linebackers during the regular season, but one thing is already clear.
The Ravens felt more comfortable giving Wagner first crack at the position rather than going with a retread like Winston, who started every game for the past seven seasons.
They'll know in a few months if they've made the right decision.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun