Although center, guard and tackle are the three positions along the offensive line, the players who make up that front usually say that something as simple as moving from one spot to another or switching from one side to the other is not as easy as it sounds.
Mastering that ability to adjust, however, is critical for offensive linemen vying for a spot on a team’s active 53-man roster. That’s especially true for the Ravens, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron says.
“To be a backup, you have to be versatile,” Cameron said after Tuesday’s practice at the team’s training complex in Owings Mills. “You have to be a guard that can play tackle, a tackle that can play guard. You better be able to play both guards at least. And you have to find a guy that can play guard and center because you need at least three guys that can play center.
"You have seven linemen active. You have to have three of them that can play center, and a lot of times – knock on wood – I’ve only gotten to the third center a couple of times. But you have to have a third guy that can get the ball snapped. So you’re spot-on for backups. Versatility is the key.”
Outside of center Matt Birk, guards Marshal Yanda and Bobbie Williams and tackles Michael Oher and Bryant McKinnie, the team has several offensive linemen who fit that bill. Rookie Kelechi Osemele has started at right tackle and left guard in the first three preseason games, rookie Gino Gradkowski can line up at center or guard, and Jah Reid can play tackle or guard.
“The backside of that is we do have young guys that can play multiple spots, and that’s the key,” Cameron said. “These are young guys, but these are big men. You guys see them. It’s nice to have big tackles that can play guard and give us some flexibility.”