O-line limbo

The Baltimore Sun

In two minicamps under first-year coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens' offensive line has been a revolving door.

But if there is one player the team would like to see help end the shuffle, it's fourth-year offensive tackle Adam Terry.

If Terry finally plays up to the Ravens' expectations, he could be the replacement for Pro Bowl left tackle Jonathan Ogden if Ogden decides to retire. If Ogden doesn't, then Terry could be the starting right tackle.

If, if, if ...

And if Terry doesn't start this season, he could be in the unemployment line by the beginning of next season.

"I would say it's a pivotal year," said Terry, one of the Ravens' two second-round draft picks in 2005. "I wouldn't say it's a make-or-break year, but it's a pivotal year as far as helping out this team, and helping out this franchise."

Terry hasn't participated in the minicamps because he is rehabilitating from offseason ankle surgery.

He should be ready to go by training camp. But you can tell he is anxious. Terry has added about 10 pounds of bulk to his 6-foot-8, 330-pound frame, and his arms are a lot thicker.

"All I can do is lift because I can't run," Terry said. "You always want to get stronger. You know what they say: bigger, faster, stronger."

How about meaner? That has been one of the knocks on Terry since Day One. He is a great physical specimen and a good athlete. He has good hands and balance. His fellow players love him because of his strong work ethic, but he's too nice.

And he also hasn't had time to settle in at one position. When the Ravens drafted him, he was the heir apparent to Ogden.

But he has played left tackle, then right tackle, then back to left, then back to right. Last season, Terry started a career-high nine games - four at right tackle, four at left tackle and one at tight end.

Terry won't say that the moving around has slowed his development, but it has. It doesn't seem like much for a player just to move from one side to the other, but it's hard.

You're used to stepping one way, and now you have to learn to step with the other foot first. That can cost you a second or two. Terry has played with several guards on both sides. More than just about anything else, offensive line play is about timing.

Even now, Terry doesn't have a home. A lot depends on Ogden. Are you listening, J.O.?

"We went through this last year, too," Terry said. "J.O. is a Pro Bowl player and a future Hall of Famer. He'll make his decision when he is ready to make it. He is a very special player, and not too many players can do what he does on the football field.

"My first two years here I was a swing tackle, and that was OK because I was given an opportunity to play," Terry said. "Left, right, it didn't matter. But it would be nice to settle on a position, to be able to know where you're going to be, and then roll with the game plan."

The Ravens would love for Terry to succeed. On draft day in 2005, they acquired the right to draft Terry 64th overall from the New England Patriots for the Ravens' third- (No. 84 overall) and sixth-round (No. 195) picks.

But for now, everything is on hold for Terry, just as it is for most of the other offensive linemen. The Ravens are shuffling linemen like a poker dealer shuffling cards.

Terry has to settle with spending a lot of time in the classroom learning a new system.

"They are moving a lot of people around, trying to see what everybody can do," Terry said. "I only had one coach in this league, and I only knew one way. These coaches have a different way of teaching, and it's phenomenal and interesting.

"They are very active in testing you. The volume as far as learning plays and variations of schemes is much greater. Physically, missing camp is hurting me because I can't be out there getting in shape. Mentally, I'm staying longer in the classroom because I can't see the game through my face mask."

It will be different in late July once training camp has started.

"The projection is training camp," Terry said. "That will be the start of a very pivotal season."


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