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Solid start for new Ravens right tackle Rick Wagner

Ravens offensive tackle Rick Wagner is aware of the scrutiny he's under as the replacement for right tackle Michael Oher.

And Wagner has quietly gone about his work, rarely being noticed during training camp as he's improved his blocking technique and strength heading into his second NFL season.

"You don't want to be in the headlines," Wagner said this week. "You want to do your job quietly. I feel like it's going really well."

The 2013 fifth-round pick from Wisconsin had a solid starting debut during the Ravens' 23-3 preseason victory Thursday night over the San Francisco 49ers. Wagner didn't allow a sack and drove defensive linemen off the line of scrimmage during Bernard Pierce's first-quarter touchdown run.

Wagner has come a long way as a blocker since a rough initiation into the NFL last season, when he allowed three sacks to Denver Broncos outside linebacker Shaun Phillips during his first NFL game after Oher sprained his ankle.

Now that Oher is with the Tennessee Titans after signing a $20 million contract in March, the job belongs to Wagner with Jah Reid operating as his backup.

"Yes, I think he played an extension of how he has practiced," coach John Harbaugh said of Wagner. "It was good to see. When a player takes the practice into the game, that’s really encouraging.  Because we were really happy with what he was doing in practice.

"I think someone wrote it earlier, you don’t notice him much. That’s a good thing for a right tackle, and he seemed like he played that way. And at the end of the day, he was solid and on his targets, and footwork was good. He's a good, solid football player.”

awilson@baltsun.com
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