Ravens offensive line awaits matchup with Lions' Suh, Avril

The Baltimore Sun

Overwhelmed at times by the Atlanta Falcons' speed and blitz packages a week ago, the Ravens' offensive line is about to encounter a new challenge Friday night.

The Detroit Lions' front seven is headlined by Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and swift defensive end Cliff Avril.

Suh is one of the most aggressive interior linemen in the game, playing with a rough style that got him in trouble last season when he was suspended for two games without pay for stomping on a Green Bay Packers offensive lineman.

The majority of the Ravens' troubles against Atlanta were with the interior offensive line as rookie center Gino Gradkowski and left guard Bobbie Williams struggled to react to inside pressure.

Avril is slated to play in his first game since signing his $10.6 million franchise tender after missing the first 10 days of training camp.

Avril's game is based on fast upfield moves and an ability to redirect his pass rushing repertoire. He led the Lions with 11 sacks and six forced fumbles last season.

Avril normally plays left defensive end, which would pit him against rookie offensive tackle Kelechi Osemele.

Lions starting right defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch is expected to miss his seond game in a row, but Willie Young had a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery last week against the Cleveland Browns.

"Yeah, great test," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "This front line is so physical. They are so deep. They are so talented and, really, their whole football team is when you look at them. They are just a real physical, talented football team.

"It's going to be a big challenge for us. I'm pretty sure, knowing that team's personality, they are going to come in here and make a statement even though it's preseason. I'm sure they'll still be trying to make their statement, and our guys will understand that."

Translation: The offensive line, which should have better communication with six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk expected to make his preseason debut after sitting out last week with back issues, needs to match the Lions' power and toughness.


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