OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens’ offensive line is off to a shaky start.
Six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk had surgery on his left knee and his status is in doubt. Offensive guard Marshal Yanda is sidelined with back spasms.
Offensive tackles Michael Oher, Oniel Cousins and rookie Jah Reid allowed six sacks during a 13-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles to open the preseason.
Can the Ravens rebound and have an effective line?
“We’re going to try to be,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. “We really don’t know yet. We are going to know more in the next two or three weeks.”
Against the Eagles, the Ravens’ blockers got pushed around and committed several penalties. The rough night prompted more speculation that the Ravens need to sign a veteran offensive tackle.
“I definitely went through some growing pains out there,” Reid said. “It’s my first NFL game and there are going to be some jitters, but football is football. Just because it’s my first game doesn’t excuse mistakes or having bad plays.”
In his second season at left tackle, Oher wasn’t expected to have this much trouble against Eagles defensive end Trent Cole.
“I’ve got to get better from week to week,” Oher said. “You have to build on it and learn from it and go get better from week to week. We just have to get it down and be conscious of it and get off at the snap. The first preseason game, the second preseason game, you know where you are game by game by seeing different opponents.”
Oher got annoyed after the game when he drew criticism via his Twitter account.
“I’m glad I have skin like an armadillo,” Oher wrote.
The Ravens’ quarterbacks needed to have thick skin, too, since they got thrown to the ground so often.
Cousins had such a hard time against Eagles defensive end Darryl Tapp that he was moved to offensive guard after starting against Philadelphia at right tackle. Now, he’s filling in for Yanda at right guard with the first-team offense and Reid is the starting right tackle.
“He’s in the mix, whether he wants to be or not, period,” Cameron said of Reid. “In my mind, he’s either going to be playing or one or two plays from playing. We’re trying to get that point across to a lot of guys. There’s no four-year scholarships.”
Despite Yanda missing the past four practices with back spasms, Cameron isn’t worried about the veteran blocker.
“He’s one of the toughest guys in our locker room,” Cameron said. “He’s one of the guys you know you can count on.”
If Reid falters, the Ravens could always play Yanda at right tackle again after starting him at that spot every game last season when Jared Gaither missed the entire season with a back injury.
“That’s always a possibility,” Cameron said.
Improvement is needed after a rough debut.
The Ravens get a chance to redeem themselves Friday night against the Kansas City Chiefs in their second preseason game.
“We’re going to try to work out the best five in some combination,” Cameron said. “It may not be ideal, but it’s probably our best alternative.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)