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Ravens can only blame themselves for OL troubles

The Ravens cut offensive guard/tackle Oniel Cousins today. My only question is what took so long?

Entering his fourth season, Cousins had made improvement over the years, but not enough to warrant a regular starting job on any NFL team. Cousins, though, is just a minor piece in the major flaw of this football team going back to last season and heading into 2011. Right now, you have to wonder if general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh can evaluate offensive linemen.

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Cousins was terrible last year, and the Ravens kept making excuses for him. They said his progress was hampered by illnesses when in fact Cousins just wasn't a very good football player. The Ravens didn't want to admit they made a mistake by drafting him in the third round in 2008.

Another mistake was counting on Michael Oher to play left tackle in 2011. Everyone saw him struggle on the left side in 2010, and he just isn't technically sound enough to be a quality left tackle that you can count on every week. What bugs me, though, is that the Ravens had the prototype in Jonathan Ogden for nearly a decade. You want a tackle with the long torso, the long arms and legs. Your left tackle has to be one of the smartest and most technically sound players on the field.

That's not Oher. He's a mauler, a smaller version of Orlando Brown who needs to play on the right side.

Over at center, there were signs at the end of last season that Matt Birk was slowing down. To their credit, the Ravens wanted to bring back Chris Chester, but once he signed with the Washington Redskins, the Ravens didn't seem to have another plan. Now, they don't have a legitimate starting center -- at least one to count on to start the season -- and their No. 2 Bryan Mattison, is questionable in terms of his ability.

The Ravens have done well by adding New England swing lineman Mark LeVoir and Minnesota OT Bryant McKinnie. But McKinnie is a gamble, and Harbaugh has already admitted the Ravens could be into the regular season before they find their top offensive linemen.

I assume, as usual, the Ravens were trying to get the best out of their investments, but it was clear at the end of last season that the Ravens couldn't bring this group back together if they wanted to improve. Now they've wasted a lot of crucial time and it might be time for the Ravens to re-evaluate their approach when it comes to offensive linemen.

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