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Linemen Mathis, Winston to visit Ravens

OWINGS MILLS - The Baltimore Ravens reacted quickly to guard Ben Grubbs' pending exit from the roster, scheduling a visit for today with Philadelphia Eagles veteran free agent guard Evan Mathis.

While Grubbs met with the New Orleans Saints and took a physical Wednesday as his agent negotiated with Saints team officials after declining the Ravens' best contract offer before free agency began, the Ravens are now set to meet with Mathis.

Mathis, 30, is regarded as one of the top remaining free agent offensive guards along with Grubbs now that former Saints Pro Bowl selection Carl Nicks has signed the richest guard contract in NFL history with a $47.5 million blockbuster deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Mathis could fill the hole at left offensive guard with Grubbs expected to ultimately sign a lucrative deal with the Saints or another NFL team.

They also scheduled a visit with Houston Texans free agent offensive tackle Eric Winston for later in the week. Winston told the Times he'll visit the Kansas City Chiefs today followed by the St. Louis Rams, Ravens and then the Detroit Lions.

"I want to win right now," Winston said in a telephone interview. "That's what's important to me. That's the kind of team I'm looking for."

Mathis started all but one game last season for the Eagles during his first season in Philadelphia last year after signing a one-year contract.

Mathis has previous stints with the Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins and the Carolina Panthers.

The 6-foot-5, 302-pounder has started 37 of 73 career games since Carolina drafted him in the third round out of Alabama.

The Alabama connection certainly won't hurt Mathis with the Ravens as it's also general manager Ozzie Newsome's alma mater.

Mathis was rated the best left guard in the league last season by Pro Football Focus. He didn't allow a sack during the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

Meanwhile, Winston was cut by the Texans on Tuesday with a failed physical designation after undergoing a scope on his ankle five weeks ago.

"It's coming back fast," Winston said. "It's going to be fine."

Winston started every game last season and was due a $5.5 million base salary in 2012.

Winston, 28, plays right tackle and is well-versed in zone blocking schemes from his time in Houston, which is the same scheme the Ravens installed last season.

If the Ravens signed him and opted not to pick up left tackle Bryant McKinnie's $500,000 roster bonus due Saturday and let him go, they could shift Michael Oher to left tackle and plug in Winston at right tackle.

A former University of Miami standout, Winston visited the Miami Dolphins for his first meeting with a team shortly after being released by the Texans.

"It was good, it went really well," Winston said of his Dolphins visit. "It's pretty straightforward, the visits. You get to the point and get to know each other fast and find out if it's a good fit or not. I'm looking for the right fit and the right team."

Reach staff writer Aaron Wilson at 410-857-7896 or sports@carrollcountytimes.com

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