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Veteran Birk in awe of offensive line depth


Veteran Birk in awe of offensive line depth

Attention to detail isn't necessarily Matt Birk's strong suit. He pointed out after practice Monday that he was wearing two different shoes.

"That's how into shoes I am. Just a fact," Birk said in a self-deprecating tone that drew laughs all around. "I'll take questions now."

Playing center is where Birk, 36, is more detail-oriented.

He sat out the opening preseason game vs. the Atlanta Falcons, who pressured Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco heavily, but started vs. the Detroit Lions last week as the offensive line played more steady.

Coach John Harbaugh still has key decisions to make regarding that group.

Left tackle Bryant McKinnie, who is listed first on the depth chart there but has yet to start a preseason game, has been getting more work as he rounds into better shape. Michael Oher, the starting right tackle, has moved to the left side in McKinnie's place.

With the Ravens focusing on adding a hurry-up package to their attack, McKinnie has to be in better shape. When he reported to training camp, McKinnie was overweight. He could be back in the starting lineup for Thursday's preseason game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"Bryant is doing well. He's moving well," Birk said. "Bryant has done a good job of being in shape. He's moving as well as I've seen him move in a long time getting his backside blocks and backside cutoffs."

But there's also the issue of left guard Bobbie Williams, who struggled in the opener, rested his sore right ankle last week and possibly could end up in a backup role. Rookie Kelechi Osemele has started at right tackle in Oher's usual spot. Osemele also has spent time as backup left guard and could be shifted into Williams' spot.

The possibilities seem endless.

"He is smart, he is very tough, very long," Harbaugh said of Osemele. "He has a great punch. He probably bends a lot better than most people thought who were evaluating him in the draft. He has really good feet, maybe better than people thought. He has a chance to play either one of those spots. He has given us some flexibility in there."

Birk sees having multiple options as a good thing for the Ravens. Like with his mismatched shoes, he can handle the uncertainty.

"I think we're fortunate. This is the deepest group of offensive linemen we've had since Ive been here," said Birk, in his fourth season with Baltimore. "You really look at it as good fortune. We've tried a different number of combinations and we don't know how it will all shake out."

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Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp


Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

Football is back in session for the Ravens.

Their rookies are set to report to the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills, Md Wednesday. Veterans report next Wednesday, the 18th.

The team is reporting to training camp a bit earlier than most NFL teams. Due to Ray Lewis being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Aug. 4 in Canton, Oh, the Ravens will face the Chicago Bears in the annual Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2. Teams participating are eligible to begin training camp earlier.

This rookie class is already generating national attention. While the Ravens stand by Joe Flacco as their QB1, first-round pick Lamar Jackson could cause a shakeup at some point during the season. And when it comes to much-needed offensive help, tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews could begin to provide relief. 

Third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr. begins his journey with the Ravens in a more sentimental fashion. His father, Orlando "Zeus" Brown, also played tackle for the Ravens from 1996-98 and then again from 2003-05. Brown passed away in 2011. 

Stay with NBC Sports Washington throughout the next several weeks as we keep a close eye on the Ravens' preseason. 


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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

There's only six months until the NFL playoffs and we've got no time to waste.

OK, maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves but online betting site, Oddshark, released their early 2018 NFL playoff odds and the Ravens are in a similar situation as previous years.

The Ravens are sitting at +135 — tied for 13th with the San Francisco 49ers — for the best odds to play January football. This would place them in the seventh seed among AFC teams and just outside contention.

The Patriots (-1500), Steelers (-550), Chargers (-145), Jaguars (-140), Texans (-135), and Chiefs (+120) are seeded above them respectively. 

During the 2017 season, the Ravens were constantly in the hunt for the fifth or sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture. Several weeks ahead of training camp, Vegas is predicting that to be the case in 2018.

Playoff odds in July mean nothing, but considering their offseason changes, the Ravens' 2018 season should bring positive change.

They added weapons for Joe Flacco in free agents Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown, and drafted tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews.

Then there was the late first-round draft pick of QB Lamar Jackson. Flacco remains the starter for now, but it will be interesting to see if that changes midway through the season or if they get them both on the field at the same time.