Lost in the long- and short-term implications of the Ravens moving Kelechi Osemele to left tackle is the inclusion of Ryan Jensen in the starting lineup, a long-awaited run on the field for a player who has waited three years for his chance.
"It's encouraging, and just tells me I need to keep working harder and harder, though, every day," Jensen said. "Even though I'm on the field right now, I've still got to work harder to get better every day."
Jensen, a 2012 sixth-round NFL draft pick out of Division II Colorado State-Pueblo, was inactive for his entire rookie season as he dealt with a foot issue, then spent much of 2014 on the practice squad and was active for only one game before taking on a more important reserve role this season.
Now, he's made three starts, and his inclusion in the new-look starting lineup Sunday against Seattle was part of what coach John Harbaugh called the team's effort to get its five best linemen on the field.
His first two starts this season, in Weeks 11 and 12 in place of Osemele, Jensen got his long-awaited taste of football. He'd gone through most of his career, he said, with "kind of a chip on my shoulder, and I just kept working hard, mastering my craft."
But when left tackle Eugene Monroe went on injured reserve, Osemele replaced reserve left tackle James Hurst at that position and Jensen came into the lineup. The unit as a whole endured a difficult day, struggling to create running lanes and allowing 11 hits on quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
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But Harbaugh sees promise in Jensen, and the new starting group.
"I think Ryan has played well, but not as well as he can play," Harbaugh said. "He has had some good games for us, and some good outings. He had some really good plays in the game, and he had some plays he'd want to have back, certainly. I'm looking for improvement – looking for improvement from everybody – and to see what we can do out there on Sunday with that offensive line. But I like those guys. I like Ryan."
Jensen said one of the biggest adjustments has been the speed of the game —something he's only experienced in preseason so far.
"It's the game, and it's game speed," Jensen said. "We try to imitate game speed as much as we can during practice, but there's nothing like it when the coaches are off the field and the game is that much faster, that much more intense.
"It was a learning experience the first couple games, trying to get back up to speed after not playing since the preseason, so it was a little bit of a challenge to get back up to speed at first, but now I feel good."