Ravens' line in flux

OWINGS MILLS -- The devastating knee injury that involves three torn ligaments and ended gritty starting right guard Marshal Yanda's season has triggered a ripple effect along the Baltimore Ravens' offensive line, a consequence of losing one of their most aggressive blockers.

Subtracting Yanda from the equation is expected to lead to the ascension of former second-round draft pick and converted University of Oklahoma tight end Chris Chester to the starting lineup.

There's also a potential scenario where 6-foot-8, 330-pound right offensive tackle Adam Terry could shift to guard if his sprained right knee and lateral meniscus issue allows him to play.

Regardless of who steps in for the Ravens (2-3) during Sunday's road game against the Miami Dolphins (2-3), it's a major blow for a young offensive line.

"The loss of Yanda hurts us tremendously, we'll miss him," offensive tackle Jared Gaither said. "When you lose a soldier, you mourn, but then you keep on going. We lost Yanda, he was a great part of the offensive line, but we just have to move on."

The injury means that Chester will probably get another crack at establishing himself as a full-time starter in his third NFL season. The athletic 6-foot-3, 305-pounder started five games last season at center and guard, but had gone back to his college position of tight end a few games ago.

"It's a shame that Marshal hurt his knee the way he did," said Chester, who's now wearing his old No. 65 jersey after sporting a No. 48 at tight end. "That just means I have to go in there and carry the load that he was doing so well. It's not going to be a huge transition outside of having a different jersey number."

Chester is one of the fastest offensive linemen in franchise history, clocking a 4.8 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine. However, questions have persisted about his toughness and strength at the point of attack in starting nine games and playing in 32 since Baltimore tabbed him in the 2006 NFL draft.

Will he prove himself this time?

"I'm not thinking that far ahead," Chester said. "I don't give too much thought to things of that nature because, in my faith, things happen for a reason. At the end of the day, things will work out the way they need to."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh emphasized that he hasn't decided yet who will start Sunday, but the situation will be dictated by whether Terry's knee cooperates. He didn't practice Wednesday and had his knee wrapped up, but hasn't been ruled out yet.

"I don't know the percentage, but there is a chance he can play Sunday," Harbaugh said. "We want to get him some work in at guard if we can. In the meantime, Chris will practice there. If Terry can't go, Chris will go."

Terry started the first four games prior to hurting his knee against the Tennessee Titans, holding him out against the Indianapolis Colts. Playing guard next to right tackle Willie Anderson would be an entirely new experience for him, other than inserting himself as an interior lineman on a popular video game.

"I think I might have put myself in there one time when I was playing Madden, but that's about the extent of my guard career," said Terry, adding that he might consult retired All-Pro left tackle Jonathan Ogden on what it's like to play guard since Ogden played there as a rookie. "As an offensive lineman, you've got to know it or you can be missing assignments. I know what Marshal does and Marshal knows what I did. In this case, if I play guard, I would know what Willie did."

Added Harbaugh: "It's not an easy adjustment; they're different positions. Obviously, things at guard happen quicker and lower and you have to get in a powerful position more quickly. Tackle is more of a space position. We're quite certain he can make the adjustment."

Yet, Terry was noncommittal on whether he'll even be able to play this week.

"I'm 100 [percent] until I get there and they say I can or can't go," Terry said. "That's the mentality that I have. It's the only way you can go. The most important thing is just go in there and prepare like I'm playing and let it unfold the way I did last week."

The Ravens are also cross-training third-round offensive tackle Oniel Cousins at guard. He was inactive for the first four games before playing on special teams against the Colts.

"It's part of this business, guys going down," Cousins said. "At that point, other guys have to step up. Whatever role they want me to play, I'm ready to go."

The Ravens are in the midst of a three-game losing streak and allowed rookie quarterback Joe Flacco to be sacked four times in a 31-3 loss to the Colts.

Now, they no longer have Yanda to bolster the pass-blocking. It's also a possible setback to the chemistry and cohesiveness up front.

"We take pride in protecting Joe, when that happens, we take it to heart," center Jason Brown said. "We go back and look at film and we try and make sure that's not going to happen again.

"We thought we were going to be a tight-knit group with the guys in there, but with the unpredictability in this game, you never know. It hurts to see something like that."

Added left guard Ben Grubbs: "Marshal will definitely be missed. He worked really hard, he was playing great, but we have a great backup in Chris Chester. I have all the faith in the world that Chris is going to step up and contribute to the offense."

Yanda is expected to return by spring minicamps after undergoing surgery to repair his torn anterior cruciate, medial collateral and lateral collateral ligaments.

Known for his physical nature and being off-kilter and tough enough to win $1,500 in a bet with teammates by withstanding the shock of a taser three times in three-second spans, Yanda's absence will definitely be felt.

Conversely, Chester has a relatively mild-mannered, quiet personality, but has quick feet and sound technique.

"Once we get on the field, everybody's aggressive," Gaither said. "Chris is a good guy, and he's been here before. He's played for a while now in the NFL and we all expect him to step up and do good things."


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