On the surface, the transition that Ravens’ second-year offensive lineman Ryan Jensen is attempting to make looks like a daunting task. Jensen, however, looks at it more like a great opportunity.
Ravens officials approached Jensen, who was initially being groomed as a center, earlier this offseason and told him that they’d like him to move outside and give offensive tackle a try.
To Jensen, it was a no-brainer. The Ravens already had four other centers on their roster, including Jeremy Zuttah who was acquired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March to start. Meanwhile, they had a vacancy at right tackle and a chance for Jensen to potentially play right away.
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“That’s how I’m treating it,” Jensen said at teammate Lardarius Webb’s charity softball game on Sunday. “I’m treating it as that opportunity to go out there and win a starting spot.”
Fellow second-year player Rick Wagner remains the favorite to start at right tackle, but Ravens’ coaches think that Jensen has the tools to make the transition. At 6-foot-3 and 304 pounds, he’s plenty big enough to succeed at tackle in zone-blocking schemes that rely more on quickness and athleticism.
And the reality is it’s really not that big of a jump at all for Jensen.
He started at offensive tackle for four years at Colorado State-Pueblo before the Ravens made him a sixth-round pick in 2013, and he said that he’s extremely comfortable at the position.
“Playing four years at the same position, you get in a groove. I found that [groove] pretty quickly,” said Jensen who was working at right tackle during last week’s organized team activities. “I could play wherever they need me. Right now, they have me at tackle and I’m there to compete.”
Jensen spent all of his rookie season on the Ravens’ 53-man roster, but he never suited up for a game. He was unavailable for several games because of a broken foot that he suffered early in training camp. That the Ravens kept him on the roster despite the fact that he wasn’t playing shows that they are excited about his promise.
It also allowed Jensen an opportunity to practice with the team every day and be in the offensive line meeting rooms, an invaluable experience for a small-school prospect who didn’t play against top competition in college.
“It was really valuable,” Jensen said. “Being able to have the opportunity to watch veteran players and how they operate throughout the year, what they do to get better every day. It was a great opportunity.”
Now, Jensen has another opportunity, and it’s one that he’s warming to quickly.