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Ravens rookie linemen James Hurst, John Urschel to start Saturday vs. Steelers

Ravens rookie offensive lineman James Hurst.
Ravens rookie offensive lineman James Hurst. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun)

Ravens undrafted rookie James Hurst will start the sixth game of his NFL career Saturday night, lining up at left tackle across from Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison in an AFC wild-card playoff game.

And fellow rookie John Urschel will make his fourth NFL start, playing right guard for the second consecutive game as Marshal Yanda will shift to right tackle again with Rick Wagner out for the season because of a Lisfranc foot injury.

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Regardless of their relative lack of experience, the Ravens are counting on the two rookies to hold up against the Steelers' experienced front seven.

"It definitely feels like that, just knowing that no one on our team, no one at all really cares that we're rookies," said Hurst, who will start in place of Eugene Monroe for the second straight game. "It's just the mindset of you being the guy and you have to get the job done. It doesn't matter how old you are."

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Hurst started four consecutive games earlier this season when Monroe had arthroscopic knee surgery. Monroe is still in a walking boot, according to a source, after suffering an ankle injury against the Houston Texans on Dec. 21.

Both Hurst and Urschel, a fifth-round draft pick from Penn State, have drawn high marks for their intelligence and toughness.

"Hurst and Urschel have improved throughout the course of the season really well," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Thursday. "They're guys who pay attention to detail. They work really hard. They're smart guys, so they pick things up quickly and they've done a really good job."

Hurst has a particularly challenging assignment against Harrison, the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year who came out of retirement and has 5.5 sacks this season. Harrison had two sacks during the Steelers' 43-23 win over the Ravens on Nov. 2 with Monroe assigned to block him.

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"He's definitely a great player with a great motor," Hurst said. "He's going to get after it. He's as tough as anyone. You have to know he's that type of guy and use your technique. He's definitely a short, thick guy. He's going to have the leverage and hand punch, so you have to get your hands on him first."

awilson@baltsun.com

twitter.com/RavensInsider

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