Not to mention the entire starting five's brutish role in paving the way for the league's top scoring offense led by running back Priest Holmes, the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year.
Kansas City (3-0) is the AFC leader in total offense, a quick-striking juggernaut that has scored a touchdown on every trip into the red zone. "The offensive linemen I have are exceptional," said Holmes, the former Ravens starter who departed in free agency the year after Jamal Lewis was drafted. "We have big offensive tackles somewhat similar to Jonathan Ogden. "We have guys that can get out on the perimeter and run."
The Baltimore front three receive high grades each week from position coach Rex Ryan, especially in the areas of hustle, technique and toughness. They feature no Pro Bowl selections. They're jokingly referred to as the ‘Buddy Lee' group, the nickname retired defensive lineman Tony Siragusa bestowed upon stocky nose guard Kelly Gregg.
Now, Buddy Lee and Co. will take on the Chiefs.
"We're definitely the no-name defensive line, the Buddy Lee group, and they've got all those names," defensive end Tony Weaver said. "This is a big test for us."
Competing with any offensive line, no matter how decorated, is a matter of being determined and strong enough to fight through gaps. The Ravens don't have ideal size along the defensive line, but counter that deficiency with intangibles. "We are underpaid and we are undersized," defensive end Marques Douglas said. "We are by far one of the hardest-working defensive lines around the NFL. We realize that every week we have to prove we're worthy. "We realize that Kansas City has one of the better defensive lines in the league, but we just have to go out and play our game."
Meanwhile, Kansas City carries the confidence of having plowed through defenses last season to lead the NFL in scoring with a franchise-record 467 points. They only surrendered 26 sacks. Last year, Holmes tallied 2,287 total yards from scrimmage to lead the league. "That offensive line is excellent," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Priest is very patient and lets his guys get a hat on a hat and then he finds a seam. It will be a huge test for the Buddy Lees."
Beyond the run-stopping of Gregg, the Ravens mount a pass rush behind ends Adalius Thomas and Douglas. Thomas and Douglas have combined for three sacks. The Ravens' defensive line men smile at the mention of playing against a group of heralded blockers. "They've got a lot of Pro Bowl guys, but more than anything they play well as a unit," Gregg said. "It's going to be a tough game. We'll just play hard like we always do to get the job done."
Plus, rookie outside linebacker Terrell Suggs has three sacks operating as a rush end. The 6-foot-3, 260-pounder uses quickness to defeat tackles who outweigh him by sixty to eighty pounds. Chiefs quarterback Trent Green has only been sacked five times in three games. "I've got to get in there," said Suggs, a first-round draft pick. "I can't let him sit back there and pick us apart."
Besides the element of size, which Kansas City has plenty of behind Roaf (6-5, 320), Shields (6-3, 315), left guard Brian Waters (6-3, 318) and right tackle John Tait (6-6. 323), the Chiefs' blockers are known for their movement. Center Casey Weigmann is the smallest Chiefs starting lineman at 6-2, 285 pounds, but the last start he missed was in 2001 with a bout of appendicitis. "They're not only big, they're real athletic," Weaver said. "They are tenacious and finish their blocks. I have a lot of respect for them."
Baltimore has the largest offensive line in the NFL, averaging 329.5 pounds. "We're not as big as the Ravens' offensive line," Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil said. "I look at our offensive line as multi-talented in athleticism. "They are mobile guys. They can block in space. They don't have a limitation."
While acknowledging the Chiefs' offensive strength, which includes averaging 36.0 points and 366 yards of total offense per contest, the Ravens are far from intimidated. It's another test for a group that left the San Diego Chargers' line limping with tackle Vaughn Parker out for the season. "They are big and athletic and get around the corner to set things up," Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said. "It's going to be exciting to see our speed deal with their brute strength."
Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.