I gotta call him RICK Wagner, not Ricky anymore— because the big guy in his 2nd year out of Wisconsin just won the starting right tackle job for the Baltimore Ravens.
That’s one mystery solved as the Ravens head into a very busy week leading up to the first round of roster cuts.
Here’s how the schedule breaks down:
Saturday, August 23, the Ravens host the Washington Redskins for preseason game 3 which kicks off at 7:30 PM EST.
Tuesday, August 26— the first round of roster cuts—the roster must be trimmed from 90 players to 75 by 4 P.M.
Thursday, August 28, the Ravens wrap up the preseason against the New Orleans Saints.
Saturday, August 30— Final roster cutdown from 75 to 53 by 4 P.M.
A lot of questions need to be answered in that time frame. The main area of concern is finding at least two more viable cornerbacks who are NFL-game-ready. The Ravens’ secondary right now is a hot mess due to so many injuries.
Lardarius Webb has now been declared out of action for at least the next two weeks with a lower back problem.
The Ravens’ first regular season game is Sunday, September 7, when they host the Cincinnati Bengals. Then they have a quick turnaround with the Steelers coming to town on Thursday night, September 11. Brutal scheduling….
At least the missing link in the Ravens’ offensive line has been filled, and coach John Harbaugh has declared Rick Wagner highly qualified for the job at RT.
“He’s earned it,” Harbaugh said. “He earned that spot.”
“I think Rick has been solid,” Harbaugh said. “Solid is the next step before being good and good is the next step before being great. I think he’s on his way.”
As for Jah Reid, once considered the main challenger for Wagner’s new job? Well, Reid has earned the 3rd tackle position and will be the main backup behind both Eugene Monroe at LT and Wagner at RT. That is also a pleasant development and one less headache for the team to resolve.
Reid is a nice surprise this season. He’s either been chronically injured or in the Ravens doghouse for most of his career stints in Baltimore.
Reid is now 26 years old. He’s 6-7, 320, now in his 4th year out of Central Florida.
Wagner is 6-6, 310, and only 24 years old.
Meanwhile, injuries of a nagging nature plague key positions.
At cornerback, you’ve got Webb (back), Asa Jackson (ankle), and Jimmy Smith (bruised chest, some bleeding from the lung) all doubtful to return before September 7. In fact, if all three were able to return by then in game shape, I would be amazed.
Then at tight end, Owen Daniels has pulled up lame due to some chronic swelling in his legs.
The overall team problem with these type injuries is the injured players can’t practice at game speed. You almost have to count them out now in your head as inactive for September 7’s home opener just to be prepared, and you have to supplement your roster accordingly. That could mean a free agent signed here or a rookie promoted there who may not be ready yet to contribute at a high level.
John Harbaugh and Ozzie will figure it out. They usually do. But it causes more concern this season due to the impending opening week schedule against two divisional rivals with 2 games in 4 days. That is a daunting challenge that really begs for good health among all your regulars.
Something’s gotta give…