Center Matt Birk’s retirement meant the Ravens had no chance to bring back their entire starting offensive line from the Super Bowl, but they did the next best thing.
Re-signing left tackle Bryant McKinnie after McKinnie flirted with other teams allows the Ravens to put four-fifths of that line back on the field when the 2013 season gets underway. Throw in the fact that Gino Gradkowski, Birk’s projected replacement at center, has a year in the system under his belt and the Ravens have strong continuity from the 2012 season. That makes quarterback Joe Flacco a happy man.
“Yeah, it does,” Flacco said, via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. “I think every year we’ve been here, we’ve juggled the offensive line around a pretty good amount. And at some point or another during the middle of the season or come playoff time or all through preseason and at the beginning of the season, we’ve switched something or just made our starting line. So, I think the fact that we have a pretty good feel about who is going to be up there is definitely good for me, and the fact that they played so well together last year at the end of the season is definitely a big confidence booster.”
Starting with the same group doesn’t mean the Ravens won’t have to shuffle things at some point during the season, of course, but the prospect of picking up where the offense left off has to be an appealing one to the Ravens. They can focus on less settled areas, like wide receiver, while letting the line continue to do its thing.