The Ravens’ second-string offensive line, featuring a combination of rookies and former starters, will get its most extended playing time Thursday in the final preseason game against New Orleans.
Despite some injuries and shuffling within the unit during the preseason, coach John Harbaugh said he’s happy with the group's performance so far in the preseason.
“I think our depth on our offensive line is at least as good as anybody else’s,” Harbaugh said. “If you look around the league, it’s hard to have ten starting offensive linemen on your roster. Nobody has that. So I feel like we’re developing some good young players, [and] we’ve got some veterans in there.”
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Center Gino Gradkowski and guard A.Q. Shipley, both starters last year, anchor the second unit. Guard/tackle Jah Reid, another former starter, was named the top backup at tackle last week, but is out with a concussion.
“Up until he had the concussion, he was playing really well,” Harbaugh said. “He had a few mental mistakes [against Dallas] that I was concerned about, then I learned he played after he got hit in the head. So I give him a lot of credit for doing that.”
The unit has excelled at run blocking, particularly in the first two games of the preseason. Rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro ran for 130 yards and a touchdown in the first two preseason games, and backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor scrambled for 65 yards behind the second-team line in his first two games.
But with Reid out against Washington, the unit featured undrafted rookies James Hurst at left tackle and Parker Graham at right tackle, plus fifth-round pick John Urschel at right guard.
Taylor was sacked once behind the second-string linemen against Washington, and forced to scramble four times in the second half, but he said the line has been playing well.
“They’ve been fighting their butts off each and every day,” Taylor said. “[They’ve been] giving me a bunch of time to go out there and get through my reads.”
Harbaugh singled out guard/center Ryan Jensen, who has rotated with Urschel, and Hurst, who has held the second-team left-tackle spot, as players who have made good progress.
“You try to develop talent behind your starters, and I really believe we have good guys developing in there,” Harbaugh said.