Photo Courtesy: USA Today

James Hurst Starting at Right Tackle is Concerning

September 07, 2018 - 10:34 am

By Joe Schiller

The Ravens kick off an anticipated 2018 campaign with a Week 1 matchup against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday and the offensive line has been a point of conversation, particularly at right tackle.

All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda returns from a broken ankle and slots into his coveted position at guard but the battle between veteran James Hurst and rookie Orlando Brown Jr. has been well noted throughout the offseason.

But with only two days until Sunday, there’s more clarity and fans should be worried because of it.

An updated depth chart was released on Tuesday showing Hurst as the starter and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg furthered that claim when speaking to reporters at practice on Wednesday.

Hurst – re-signed to a four-year, $17.5 million deal in March – started all 16 games at left guard last season. His versatility is unmatched on the offensive line, but putting him at right tackle, a position he’s struggled at before isn’t smart.

This isn’t a new development, though. Harbaugh gave Hurst the nod at right tackle back in late March during owner’s meetings. And while it's lazy to focus solely on Hurst’s blunder in 2015 that led to Flacco’s knee injury against the Rams, it still offers a legitimate concern. The AFC North offers talented pass rushers such as Myles Garrett, Emmanuel Ogbah, T.J. Watt and Carlos Dunlap.

In a year where Flacco’s health and a playoff berth are the top priority, does Hurst truly provide confidence on the outside?

Hurst was an integral part of the run blocking scheme that paved the way for a breakout season from Alex Collins. If it isn’t broke at left guard, don’t fix it, especially with the option to have Brown as a starter at right tackle. The experience may be looked at as a negative for the rookie but his size and play throughout the preseason has been impressive, to the point where he’ll likely be a starter at some point this season.

The Bills may not offer the biggest threat at edge rush but as the schedule progresses on with divisional matchups and games against the Chargers, Broncos, etc, that’s a scary thought.