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Baltimore’s starting center may be determined

    • 46 posts
    14 de fevereiro de 2019 23:57:15 ART

     Entering the 2018 season there were storylines about the possible battle at starting quarterback. That turned out to be a moot point with Joe Flacco being the unquestioned starter. However , another position battle has been quietly brewing at center between Matt Skura and Alex Lewis.As of right now, it looks like Skura is the leader at the position. Lewis has been primarily taking snaps at left guard, as Marshal Yanda has returned at right guard. James Hurst has slid from right guard to right tackle, pushing Orlando Brown Jr. to the first reserve at tackle. Ronnie Stanley is the starter at left tackle. “It’s great to have Marshal [Yanda] back – always,” Hurst said of having Yanda back on the line. “He’s an incredible player, incredible leader, too. Just to have that veteran presence that’s played so well for so long [is important]. We’re really glad to have him back. It gives us more depth, gets us back to full strength. We’re excited about that, to be able to move guys around and start thinking about, ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to do Week 1.’ So it’s exciting to have him back for sure. I’m really happy. It’s obviously great to play next to him.”Yanda has made 135 starts in his career along the offensive line of the Ravens. His health is key to what Baltimore could accomplish in both the running and passing games. With his return, it further complicates what the starting lineup will look like outside of where he and Stanley will play. It also gives Baltimore a great deal of flexibility to place their offensive linemen at different spots.“I think just trying to be coachable, understanding that everyone has a role on the team,” Hurst said of being versatile along the offensive line. “If you’re not a starter, you’re a backup. If you’re not starting, you’re going to have to be able to play all positions. We only dress seven on gameday, so [it’s about] just having that mindset of, ‘Hey, I’m going to do the best I can for the team. I’m going to play my role as well as I can and work to get better every day.’”Orlando Brown Jr. and James Hurst are in a trench fight for the starting role at right tackle and the decision could cause a ripple effect at center.Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY SportsHurst started all 16 games at left guard last season with the absence of Lewis. According to Pro Football Focus, Hurst graded out at 55.1, ranking as the 62nd ranked guard in the NFL. He also signed a four-year, $17.5 million deal during the offseason , meaning that he could be seeing a larger role with the Ravens. Things could be changing soon for Baltimore at center and it all depends Brown Jr.’s ability to wrestle the starting role at right tackle from Hurst. Though some may argue that if Hurst doesn’t win the job, he will be on the bench, that may not be the case. Hurst could slide over to left guard and push Lewis to the starting center role. Hurst has also played left tackle, lining up at four different positions on the line. Lewis has been Baltimore’s best option at left guard and before injuring his shoulder in 2017, he was set to be the starter at the position. In 2016, Lewis had a 96.6 pass blocking efficiency rating, per PFF. If Baltimore goes with Lewis at left guard, they are maximizing the talent that they have at both left guard and center.Baltimore could decide to go with the larger Lewis at center, who has shown the ability to get leverage on the inside against larger defensive tackles. One specific instance of this is during the first joint practice against the Los Angeles Rams where Lewis was able to seal a running lane against Ndamukong Suh. Skura had some trouble feeling the pressure against the larger defensive lineman.What Skura lacks in size and brute strength is his experience and knowledge of the center position. Skura started in 12 games at guard last season, rating 53.4 per PFF. While at Duke, Skura was the starting center from 2014-2015. Now he will slide to his natural position, where he could be the starter. “We’re really excited, especially after last year,” Skura said. “Me coming in on a short notice and still being able to play well and at a high level, I think, really helps out, as well as depth, and it shows that we can also move guys around. James [Hurst] went from playing mostly tackle in the preseason to starting all 16 games at left guard. Myself, I played left guard, center, right guard, all through the preseason and ended up having to play right guard all year. So , I think it definitely helps [having stability], and I know we’re really excited.”Regardless of who the starting center is on September 9, Baltimore has much more depth in comparison to last season. Lewis is back at left guard, Yanda is back at right guard and Brown Jr. or Hurst could be the starter at right tackle. If Brown Jr. wins the starting position it could slide Hurst over and push Skura to the bench at center or it couldn’t. Either way, it gives Baltimore a problem that they like to have. QB that needs to be in your lineup in Week 8:Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers:Matchup: @ RamsI’m calling it. After this Sunday afternoon, no NFL team will remain undefeated. Aaron Rodgers has been getting sharper by the week after sustaining the MCL sprain in the season opener. Against Jared Goff and a depleted Rams’ offense that is down a star in Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles doesn't have enough firepower to defeat their toughest test of the season.Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesQB I like in Week 8:Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears: Matchup: Vs. JetsWeek 7 Stats: 333 Passing YDS, 2 Passing TD, 2 INT, 81 Rushing YDS, 1 Rushing TD, 31.4 PTSIf you would have told me that I’d be starting Mitchell Trubisky in Week 8 at the start of the season I would have told you that you were out of your mind. The second-year signal-caller has improved his overall game in Matt Nagy’s offense and has been absolutely terrific over the last month, both through the air, as well as on the ground. A matchup at home this weekend against an inconsistent Jets’ unit should allow the former Tar Heel to continue his stellar play.Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesQB I am hesitant about in Week 8:Case Keenum, Denver Broncos:Matchup: @ ChiefsWeek 7 Stats: 161 Passing YDS, 1 Passing TD, 1 INT, 8.8 PTSThis is not the same offense that Case Keenum showed mastery of just a year ago. Keenum’s terrific 2017 campaign was a much more potent aerial-attack that fell just short of reaching the NFC Championship. His unit in the Mile High City is going to be down early to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, and this one could get real ugly, real quickly.Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesRB that needs to be in your lineup in Week 8:Joe Mixon , Cincinnati Bengals:Matchup: Vs. Buccaneers Week 7 Stats: 50 Rushing YDS, 3 Receptions, 1 Receiving YD, 8.1 PTSBefore Joe Mixon could get going on Sunday Night Football, the Bengals were already down 20-plus and were playing catchup. This weekend he faces a soft defensive front in the bout against Tampa and should be in for one of his best outings of 2018.Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesRB I am hesitant about in Week 8:Carlos Hyde, Jacksonville Jaguars:Matchup: Vs. Eagles Carlos Hyde has yet to step onto the gridiron in a Jacksonville uniform after being traded down south just a week ago. This weekend he is expected to suit up for the first time, unfortunately he faces a stout defense in Philadelphia, competition in the backfield from T.J. Yeldon, and it is not yet known if he has completely grasped the playbook.Ken Blaze-USA TODAY SportsWR that needs to be in your lineup in Week 8:T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts:Matchup: @ RaidersWeek 7 Stats: 4 Receptions, 25 Receiving YDS, 2 Receiving TD, 18.5 PTST.Y. Hilton returned last Sunday from a multi-week hiatus due to a lingering ailment and managed to haul in two scores on just four receptions against the Buffalo Bills. This weekend he faces a poor Oakland defense that has lost all confidence, Hilton should be for another terrific outing as he regains his footing.Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesWR I like in Week 8:Danny Amendola, Miami Dolphins:Matchup: @ TexansWeek 7 Stats: 6 Receptions, 84 Receiving YDS, 1 Receiving TD, 20.4 PTSI’m expecting a huge-outing tonight from the newest wideout in South Beach while both Albert Wilson and Kenny Stills are expected to be out of the contest. Brocktoberfest reaches a conclusion tonight, and the main cog in the system tonight will be from Danny Amendola.Photo by Mark Brown/Getty ImagesWR I am hesitant about in Week 8:Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles:Matchup: @ Jaguars Week 7 Stats: 7 Receptions, 88 Receiving YDS, 1 TD , 21.8 PTSAlshon Jeffery has rebounded much quicker than most would expect after missing the first slate of games in 2018 to rehab from offseason rotator cuff surgery. He’s posted 20-point outings in three out of the four games he’s played in so far but faces a tough matchup in Jalen Ramsey on Sunday afternoon. The Jags’ stout defense has been struggling as of late but their secondary has remained a strength. With no fluid running game, look for Carson Wentz to try to get Jeffery going early, but his floor should be lowered in this matchup.Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty ImagesWR that I am avoiding in Week 8:Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks: Matchup: @ LionsThe Seahawks come off of the bye with a contest against the Detroit Lions. Doug Baldwin, still not 100% healthy, will most likely face shadow coverage from Darius Slay, and with the inconsistency of Russell Wilson so far in 2018, I’m keeping Baldwin on the bench.Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty ImagesTE that needs to be in your lineup in Week 8:George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers:Matchup: @ CardinalsWeek 7 Stats: 5 Receptions, 98 YDS, 1 TD, 20.8 PTSThe second-year standout is matchup-proof, as evident by his play with both Jimmy Garrapolo as well as C.J. Beathard. He has remained a major factor and the number-one cog in the 49ers’ offense and that trend should continue this weekend against a struggling Cardinals’ unit.Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesTE that I am avoiding in Week 8:Evan Engram, New York Giants:Matchup: Vs. RedskinsWeek 7 Stats: 2 Receptions, 16 Receiving YDS, 10 Rushing YDS, 4.6 PTSIf you unfortunately sat through the disappointment that was Week 7 Monday Night Football, you saw how out-of-wack the Giants’ offense is just three days ago. Evan Engram is clearly still not healthy and his target share was evident of that. A contest Sunday against a much-improved Washington secondary should hold the second-year tight end in check. Keep him on the bench this weekend.Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesThursday Night Football: Miami Dolphins @ Houston TexansMiami:Brock Osweiler: StreamKenyan Drake: FlexDanny Amendola: StartDeVante Parker: StartDolphins D/ST: SitTexansDeshaun Watson: SitLamar Miller: StartDeAndre Hopkins: StartWill Fuller V: StartTexans D/ST: Start