When the news came about that the Baltimore Ravens would be without left guard Kelechi Osemele not only this Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, but for the rest of the season, a collective sigh was probably felt in Baltimore.
However, this news isn’t as devastating as it may have initially seemed, given Osemele’s struggles this year. The 24-year-old hasn’t looked like himself ever since the Ravens’ preseason showdown against the Carolina Panthers, when rookie defensive tackle Star Lotulelei dominated the second-year guard.
Osemele will be replaced by center/guard A.Q. Shipley and a mixed bag of Jah Reid and rookie center/guard Ryan Jensen, as well. These guys aren’t exactly household names, nor do they have the talent of Osemele, but it’s what the Ravens are working with and Shipley has to be the front-runner since he played this role with the team earlier in the year against the Miami Dolphins.
That being said, I think the Ravens are making the right move by allowing him to be shut down for the season and recoup for next year. Sure, Shipley isn’t an ideal offensive lineman with his diminutive stature, short arms and five career NFL starts coming into this Sunday’s game — none at guard — but anytime an offensive lineman has to deal with a nagging back injury, the best thing to do is let them heal on their own.
The second-year guard said he was willing to play through the pain and try to contribute for his team, but was he helping or hurting the team as he played through back spasms? It’s hard to say because part of the blame could go to the inexperience of his counterpart Gino Gradkowski to his right at the center position, and I emphasize “could.”
At this point, the Ravens’ offensive line has performed so bad as a collective unit, changes had to be made in some sort of way. You would have to figure, though, the only way Baltimore can go is up.