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Ravens blockers bracing for Packers' hefty defensive line

Green Bay ranks fifth in run defense, allowing 86 yards per game on the ground

By Aaron Wilson

The Baltimore Sun

10:08 AM EDT, October 11, 2013

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The Ravens offensive line has an especially weighty task this week: blocking the Green Bay Packers' hefty defensive line.

Between B.J. Raji (6-feet-2, 337 pounds) Johnny Jolly (6-2, 325) and Ryan Pickett (6-2, 338), the Packers have an extremely stout defensive front.

"Everybody is over 320 pounds to 330 pounds," said Ravens left offensive guard Kelechi Osemele, who returned to practice this week after being sidelined with back spasms against the Miami Dolphins. "They're big guys, strong, can move a lot. It's going to be a challenge this week. They're a really good defensive line. Raji's a big dude. I'm going to have my hands full this week."

The Ravens' running game bounced back last week against the Dolphins, rushing for a season-high 140 yards on 33 carries.

And that was accomplished against an imposing Dolphins defensive line led by defensive tackle Paul Soliai, a 6-foot-4, 355-pounder.

"The Packers have a lot of weight upfront," Ravens right guard Marshal Yanda said. "They're a good front. We're going to have to be ready to roll again."

The Ravens rushed for just 24 yards on a franchise-low nine carries during a loss to the Buffalo Bills two weeks ago, abandoning the run after falling behind, having ineffective blocking and seeing their running backs fail to elude defenders.

Coach John Harbaugh was critical of his linemen, calling their play disappointing.

"Week in and week out, we have to play at a high level no matter what," Yanda said. "We just didn't get it done that day. We understand we have to play at a high levle. Otherwise, it's not going to be acceptable.

"You have to come out and play well every Sunday. If you dojn't, you're going to get criticized by anybody, by everybody.That's the nature of what we do."

The Ravens won't have to account for Packers star outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who has been ruled out after undergoing surgery this week to repair a broken thumb.

"It's huge," said running back Ray Rice, who rushed for 74 yards and two touchdowns against Miami. "He's a game-wrecker with the kind of guy he is, but look at the whole defense. They're all stout, they're all big guys in the middle, a lot like our defense. They're big, strong guys.

"Not having him in the lineup is huge, because not that our tackles don’t have to worry about that, but he’s a game-wrecker. He can literally wreck a game. He’s a guy that you have to point him out at all times.”

awilson@baltsun.com
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