Long considered a cornerstone of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's philosophy, the offensive line is in a state of flux caused by a spate of injuries, most notably the season-ending knee injury to right guard Marshal Yanda.
"We've just got to get it done," left tackle Jared Gaither (Maryland) said before practice yesterday. "When you lose a soldier, you mourn, but then you keep on going. We lost Yanda; he was a great part of our offensive line, [but] we just have to move on."
How tenuous is the situation on the offensive line? The unit's configuration for Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins is still uncertain.
The most likely alignment would involve shifting Adam Terry from right tackle to Yanda's place and keeping Willie Anderson at right tackle.
But Terry, who did not play in Sunday's 31-3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts because of a problem with his right knee, did not practice yesterday. If Terry can't play, Chris Chester, a center who had been converted into a tight end in recent weeks, is expected to fill in at right guard.
"We can't decide right now because Adam has the knee still," coach John Harbaugh said. "He's rehabbing it. We think there's a chance. I don't know if there's a percentage on it right now, but there's a chance he could play Sunday. We want to get him some work in there at guard, though, this week if we can. If we can't, he'll go in there and play because he's played guard before. We just have to see how that kind of shakes out.
"But in the meantime, Chris will be practicing there, and if he [Terry] can't go, Chris will play."
Terry said his knee meniscus is improving but he wouldn't know his availability for Sunday until he talked to the medical and coaching staffs.
"I'm 100 [percent] until I get there and they say I can or can't go," said Terry, who summed up his experience at guard by saying he inserted himself at that position while playing the Madden video game. "That's the mentality that I have. It's the only way you can go. The most important thing is just go in there and prepare like I'm playing."
Guard would seem to be more suited to Chester - who, at 6 feet 3, 305 pounds, is 5 inches shorter and 23 pounds lighter than Terry - because the action is faster and lower to the turf. Jonathan Ogden, 6-9, 345 pounds, played left guard during his rookie season before earning 11 Pro Bowl selections at left tackle.
"It's not an easy adjustment," Harbaugh said of making the switch from tackle to guard. "Obviously, things at guard happen quicker and lower. You've got to get into a powerful position more quickly. Tackle is more of a space position, but we're quite certain he [Terry] can make the adjustment."
Seven of Chester's nine career starts have been at right guard, but Chester did not seem to live up to his potential as a second-round pick in the 2006 draft, which might have played into the coaches' decision to switch him to tight end.
"I don't give too much thought to things of that nature because in my faith, things happen for a reason," Chester said of dealing with the critics. "At the end of the day, things will work out the way they need to."
Even if Terry is healthy enough to play, expect the Dolphins to test the offensive line early and often. The team rushed for a season-low 51 yards against an Indianapolis defense that had been ranked last before last weekend, Gaither is nursing shoulder and knee injuries and Anderson surrendered two of Colts defensive end Robert Mathis' three sacks Sunday.
"Every team is going to attack another team's weakness," center Jason Brown said. "It can all be expected, but we're going to be ready."
Miami's pass-rushing linebacker Joey Porter agreed, adding: "Anybody that's banged up - it doesn't matter if it's the offensive line or running back situation - it's a natural tendency to come after that. We're going to try and look for advantages against the offensive line if we see something, but that's not going to change the way we attack the Ravens' offense."
Sunday, 1 p.m. TV: Ch. 13
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Line: Miami by 3