NFL

Positional Power Rankings: OL packages

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The guys who throw, run and catch for touchdowns all get the glory and fame. But none of them could be stars without blocking. It's why many successful head coaches build from the inside out, including Bill Parcells and Andy Reid (who is famous among Eagles fans for drafting interior linemen early in most every draft).

But it's not just talent and measurables that make a top-notch offensive line. The best lines are built through cohesion and continuity, as maybe no position on the field relies on communication and trust as much as the protectors in the trenches.

Which teams are stacked in 2009? Our top units are blessed with size and quickness, versatility and depth, with a nice dose of toughness in the toughest of times. *NOTE: This list is for the 2009 season only.

RANKING THE NFL'S OL PACKAGES
No.
Team
Depth chart
Breakdown
1.
GIANTS
Starters:
LT David Diehl
LG Rich Seubert
C Shaun O'Hara
RG Chris Snee
RT Kareem McKenzie
Backups:
T Guy Whimper
T/C Adam Koets
T Andrew Carnahan
G/T Kevin Boothe
T Cliff Louis
G/T Terrance Pennington
G Tutan Reyes
G/T Orrin Thompson
T Will Beatty
The starting unit returns for the third consecutive season and last year several observers called it the best O-line in the league. The drafting of Beatty (in the second round) solidifies the tackle position. He'll start off as the backup to McKenzie but is a natural LT, which could result in 2010 of a return of Diehl to LG and Seubert to the bench. Whimper will be pressed by Beatty, a blue-chip prospect. O'Hara is a veteran who, along with Snee, went to the Pro Bowl. He has at least one more effective season remaining. Reyes was signed as a veteran backup with experience. He's 6-3, 305 and has 10 seasons in the league. Carnahan has some ability, Boothe has filled in at guard and tackle and the rest will simply spend a hard-working summer vacation before moving on. More from Sports Xchange ...
2.
PANTHERS
Starters:
LT Jordan Gross
LG Travelle Wharton
C Ryan Kalil
RG Keydrick Vincent
RT Jeff Otah
Backups:
G Duke Robinson
T Geoffrey Schwartz
G Mackenzy Bernadeau
T Jonathan Palmer
T Gerald Codagan
G C.J. Davis
G Justin Geisinger
C Keith Gray
T Garry Williams
Carolina's offensive line was outstanding last year, paving the way for a franchise-record 2,437 rushing yards and 30 rushing touchdowns. They allowed only 20 sacks. The good news is the Panthers signed Gross to a long-term contract extension, assuring the Panthers will have all five starters back from last year's team as well as all 11 starters on offense overall. Otah looks like a great young player, as does Kalil. Wharton is a little overpaid, but still very effective. The bad news is Gross' contract extension and the decision to franchise Julius Peppers took up most of the available salary cap space. That meant the Panthers weren't able to re-sign guard/center Geoff Hangartner and tackle Frank Omiyale and had to cut Jeremy Bridges. That means they have no experienced backups. Bernadeau and Schwartz were both seventh-round picks in 2008 but didn't play. The team drafted Robinson this year and signed a host of undrafted rookie free agents. More from Sports Xchange ...
3.
TITANS
Starters:
LT Michael Roos
LG Eugene Amano
C Kevin Mawae
RG Jake Scott
RT David Stewart
Backups:
C/G Leroy Harris
T Mike Otto
T Troy Kropog
G Ryan Durand
G Fernando Velasco
G Jason Murphy
C Doug Datish
G Ryan Schmidt
The whole Titans unit returns intact from a year ago, including fellow All-Pros Roos and Mawae. Mawae is coming off elbow surgery, but Harris is a starter in waiting. Stewart, Scott and Amano are all solid starters, and the Titans like the potential of the rookie Kropog. More from Sports Xchange ...
4.
VIKINGS
Starters:
LT Bryant McKinnie
LG Steve Hutchinson
C John Sullivan
RG Anthony Herrera
RT Phil Loadholt
Backups:
T Chris Clark
T Ryan Cook
C Jon Cooper
G Brian Daniels
C Juan Garcia
G/T Artis Hicks
G Andy Kemp
T Drew Radovich
G Nick Urban
Hutchinson, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, anchors a unit expected to have two new starters. Sullivan takes over for Matt Birk, who signed as a free agent with Baltimore after being the Vikings' starting center since 2000. (Birk missed 2005 because of injury). The one issue is that although Sullivan is listed at 6-4, 301 pounds, he appears to be smaller than that, meaning his biggest challenge is going to be handling NFL-sized nose tackles. Loadholt is a massive man at 6-8, 343 pounds and his presence on the line would give the Vikings two of the biggest tackles in the NFL. McKinnie was suspended for the first four games of last season for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy and was replaced by the extremely versatile Hicks. Hicks, in fact, is most valuable as a backup who can play both tackle and guard positions. Cook also likely will battle for a backup spot and should be helped by the fact that he has experience at center, the position he played at New Mexico. Herrera has been the starting right guard since early in the 2007 season and continues to improve. He is coming off shoulder surgery that limited him during the offseason program. More from Sports Xchange ...
5.
EAGLES
Starters:
LT Jason Peters
LG Todd Herremans
C Jamaal Jackson
RG Stacy Andrews
RT Shawn Andrews
Backups:
Max Jean-Gilles
Nick Cole
Winston Justice
Mike McGlynn
Fenuki Tupou
King Dunlap
Paul Fanaika
Mike Gibson
A line that allowed just 23 sacks last season has undergone major offseason renovation. Its two longtime tackles -- Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan -- both are gone. The replacement at left tackle for Thomas will be two-time Pro Bowler Jason Peters, who was acquired in a trade with Buffalo. Runyan will be replaced by Pro Bowl RG Shawn Andrews, who is moving outside after missing most of last season with a back injury. His spot inside will be taken by his brother, Stacy, a free agent acquisition. While the additions of Peters and Stacy Andrews, who is coming off a major knee injury, has increased the line's overall talent level, it remains to be seen how long it will take this unit to mesh. They also need better play from Jackson than they got last year. Jackson was OK as a pass-protector, but graded poorly as a run-blocker. Cole, who played well in eight starts at RG last season, will be given an opportunity to wrestle the starting center job from Jackson. More from Sports Xchange ...
6.
FALCONS
Starters:
LT Sam Baker
LG Justin Blalock
C Todd McClure
RG Harvey Dahl
RT Tyson Clabo
Backups:
Ben Wilkerson
C Brett Romberg
T Quinn Ojinnaka
Jose Valde
T Will Svitek
T Garrett Reynolds
The major priority was adding some veteran experience behind the starters. Romberg and Svitek were added, but Jeremy Newberry retired. Romberg has started in the league. This will be the starting unit's second season together. Baker, who missed time with a concussion, hip and back woes last season, will have to show that he can hold down the left tackle spot with the retirement of Todd Weiner. The Falcons have re-shaped the line from a smallish cut-blocking unit, to a bigger unit that can in-line block and play with some passion and nastiness. More from Sports Xchange ...
7.
RAVENS
Starters:
LT Jared Gaither
LG Ben Grubbs
C Matt Birk
RG Marshal Yanda
RT Michael Oher
Backups:
T Adam Terry
C/G Chris Chester
T Oniel Cousins
G David Hale
The Ravens made two key additions, signing former Viking Birk as a free agent and drafting Michael Oher in the first round. Birk is a strong leader who should more than adequately fill the void left by Jason Brown. Oher, who has impressed coaches with his athleticism and power, has the inside track in starting over Terry. One of the big question marks is Yanda, who could start training camp on the physically unable to perform list. He missed most of last season with a severe knee injury. Grubbs and Gaither form a young and imposing left side. More from Sports Xchange ...
8.
PATRIOTS
Starters:
LT Matt Light
LG Logan Mankins
C Dan Koppen
RG Stephen Neal
RT Nick Kaczur
Backups:
Russ Hochstein
Dan Connolly
Wesley Britt
Mark LeVoir
Ryan O'Callaghan
Billy Yates
Ryan Wendell
Sebastian Vollmer
The front five has been set for quite some time and the only real change could come at the backup positions. Light and Kaczur are solid at each tackle position while Neal and Mankins continue to hold down the guard positions. Koppen is as solid as it gets at center. In Hochstein and Britt, the Patriots have two reliable backups with position flexibility. LeVoir joined the squad last year and showed additional versatility as a tight end and special-teamer. Injuries have derailed O'Callaghan's progress, but he remains an option to make the final roster like Yates, who has been a good soldier filling in as a starter in the face of adversity. Again, the Patriots have depth, so it's a matter of coming up with the right combination. More from Sports Xchange ...
9.
JETS
Starters:
LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson
LG Alan Faneca
C Nick Mangold
RG Brandon Moore
RT Damien Woody
Backups:
G/C Robert Turner
T Wayne Hunter
G Matt Slauson
T Stanley Daniels
T Michael Kracalik
For the first time since 2001, the Jets enter a season with the same starting O-line as the year before. The line paved the way for Jones to lead the AFC in rushing a year ago, and Ferguson, Faneca, Mangold and Woody all are former first-round draft picks. The only one who isn't is Moore, an undrafted free agent who began his NFL career as a defensive lineman before the Jets switched him across the line of scrimmage. Yet he arguably was the Jets' most consistent O-lineman last season. The Jets briefly released Moore in February, but wisely re-signed him after being spurned by free agent Chris Kemoeatu. The biggest challenge here will be to develop quality depth behind the starting five, but the Jets like rookie Slauson, who was coached at Nebraska by O-line coach Bill Callahan, then the Cornhuskers' head coach. Turner and Hunter were the reserves last season. More from Sports Xchange ...
10.
COWBOYS
Starters:
RT Marc Colombo
RG Leonard Davis
C Andre Gurode
LG Kyle Kosier
LT Flozell Adams
Backups:
T Doug Free
T Pat McQuistan
T Robert Brewster
G Montrae Holland
G Ryan Gibbons
G Travis Bright
G Greg Isdaner
The Cowboys have two sure things on the line in Gurode and Davis. Both are coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons and are the anchors to the strong up-the-middle attack. Colombo is solid on the right side. The big questions are on the left side where Adams is in full decline and Kosier is coming off a foot fracture that sidelined him last season. Maligned in the past, the Cowboys didn't realize Kosier's true value until he was gone. Now they hope he can return to form. And even still that might not be enough because Holland has held the position throughout the offseason and has the body the Cowboys prefer at the position. Adams, 34, gave up 7.25 sacks and was flagged for 12 penalties last season. It's not what the Cowboys expected after giving him a $43 million contract extension last season. If he doesn't improve in 2009, this will be his last season in Dallas. More from Sports Xchange ...
11.
BRONCOS
Starters:
LT Ryan Clady
LG Ben Hamilton
C Casey Wiegmann
RG Chris Kuper
RT Ryan Harris
Backups:
T Tyler Polumbus
G/C Kory Lichtensteiger
G Seth Olsen
G Pat Murray
T Brandon Gorin
G Mitch Erickson
C Blake Schlueter
G Matt McChesney
T Clint Oldenburg
T Stanley Bryant
If Clady and Harris can come close to replicating their fantastic 2008 seasons and Wiegmann's play stays at a high level, this could be one of the best offensive lines in football. This is an athletic line that can also clear holes for the running game. The unit also played very well together last year, and all five starters are back. Clady, in particular, looks like a potential All-Pro. He's a massive player with incredible feet. The guard play is also solid with veteran Hamilton and athletic youngster Kuper. The tackle depth isn't great, but Denver has some good prospects on the interior. The unit remained healthy last year, and the Broncos will be hoping for another lucky year with injuries. More from Sports Xchange ...
12.
COLTS
Starters:
LT Tony Ugoh
LG Charlie Johnson
C Jeff Saturday
RG Mike Pollak
RT Ryan Diem
Backups:
T Brandon Barnes
G Kyle DeVan
T Daniel Federkeil
T Corey Hilliard
C/G Steve Justice
G Cornelius Lewis
G Ryan Lilja
G Tom Pestock
G/C Jamey Richard
G Jaimie Thomas
T Michael Toudouze
Having a healthy Saturday (with a new contract) and Ugoh, along with the expected return of Lilja, should help bolster the Colts' offensive line heading into training camp. Johnson filled in at both guard spots a year ago but he is recovering from a shoulder injury that he suffered in the offseason. He is expected to be fine heading into camp, though. Pollak was the team's top draft pick a year ago and suffered through injuries as a rookie. Richard, a seventh-round pick in 2008, was the major surprise starter for the Colts as he took over at center with Saturday sidelined. Justice, another 2008 draft pick, saw considerable work as a rookie. Among this year's first-year players, keep an eye out for Lewis (an undrafted free agent) and Thomas. Both could see playing time as rookies if they continue to develop. More from Sports Xchange ...
13.
BUCCANEERS
Starters:
LT Donald Penn
LG Arron Sears
C Jeff Faine
RG Davin Joseph
RT Jeremy Trueblood
Backups:
G Jeremy Zuttah
T Xavier Fulton
T James Lee
C/G Sean Mahan
The Bucs consider the offensive line a strength and they plan to play to that strength. The unit is anchored by Pro Bowler Joseph, who has slimmed down to 305 pounds. Faine, at 28, is the oldest member of the group. The Bucs have done a good job investing high draft picks in this position, including Joseph (first-round) and Trueblood and Sears (second round). Penn is solid, but will become a free agent next season. Lee and Illinois rookie Fulton will compete to be the swing tackle. More from Sports Xchange ...
14.
SAINTS
Starters:
LT Jammal Brown
LG Carl Nicks
C Jonathan Goodwin
RG Jahri Evans
RT Jon Stinchcomb
Backups:
G/C Jamar Nesbit
T Zach Strief
C Nick Leckey
T Jermon Bushrod
G Tim Duckworth
G/T Anthony Davis
T Michael Brown
G Shawn Flanagan
C Digger Bujnoch
Once again, this group did its part to keep the passing game going -- and, more importantly -- keep Brees on his feet and healthy. Despite undergoing two major changes, the offensive line hardly missed a beat in allowing just 13 sacks -- a club record. Brown is a mauler and the unit's top blocker, but Evans and Nicks, who started 13 games as a rookie, did solid work around Goodwin, who stepped in at center to replace Jeff Faine. Stinchcomb, who started all 16 games for the third straight year, was effective as a run- and pass-blocker. Nesbit, Strief and Leckey are all proven backups who could step into the lineup at any given time. More from Sports Xchange ...
15.
DOLPHINS
Starters:
LT Jake Long
LG Justin Smiley
C Jake Grove
RG Donald Thomas
RT Vernon Carey
Backups:
T Andrew Gardner
T Brandon Frye
T Nate Garner
T SirVincent Rogers
G/C Andy Alleman
G/C Joe Berger
G Ike Ndukwe
G Shawn Murphy
Long lived up to his No. 1 draft status and $57.75 million contract (which was renegotiated to include annual raises) to make the Pro Bowl as a replacement for Jason Peters. He was helped by the veteran presence of Smiley and the Wildcat, which took pressure off him to protect Pennington. However, injuries to Smiley and Thomas, along with center Samson Satele's struggles against the AFC East's massive nose tackles led to an inconsistent running attack. Satele was traded to Oakland and Miami signed Raiders center Jake Grove to help run inside the tackles. Partly because of Pennington's pocket presence and short, three-step drops, the Dolphins only gave up 26 sacks, sixth lowest in the AFC. The hiring of Giants assistant Dave DeGuglielmo, who directed a line that produced the No. 1-ranked rushing attack last year, bodes well for a unit that added stability and depth by re-signing Carey and drafting Georgia Tech's Gardner for depth. The key to success lies with Grove's ability to stay healthy and for Thomas' rapid recovery from a torn chest muscle. More from Sports Xchange ...
16.
STEELERS
Starters:
LT Max Starks
LG Chris Kemoeatu
C Justin Hartwig
RG Darnell Stapleton
RT Willie Colon
Backups:
G/T Trai Essex
G Kraig Urbik
C A.Q. Shipley
T Tony Hills
T Jason Capizzi
G Jeremy Parquet
Four of the five starters were in their first seasons at the positions in 2008, including Starks, who started two years at RT before Colon beat him out. The Steelers hope another year playing together will solidify this unit. Stapleton is the most susceptible to competition and that would include rookie Urbik and veteran backup Essex. While the line was not as bad as many painted it to be in 2008, it has been among the worst in recent Steelers history. A particular sore spot is their collective inability to drive defenders off the ball in short-yardage snaps. More from Sports Xchange ...
17.
SEAHAWKS
Starters:
LT Walter Jones
LG Mike Wahle
C Chris Spencer
RG Rob Sims
RT Sean Locklear
Backups:
Ray Willis
Max Unger
Mansfield Wrotto
Kyle Williams
Steve Vallos
Na'Shan Goddard
William Robinson
Andre Ramsey
David Washington
If perennial Pro Bowl offensive tackle Walter Jones and starting guard Mike Wahle return healthy this season, the Hawks should have enough depth here. If the pair does not return at 100 percent, then the Seahawks could have some problems on offense, both running the ball and in pass protection. Also, Spencer and Sims must stay healthy. Unger is coming along with the second unit, but still needs to adjust to the more physical play at this level. More from Sports Xchange ...
18.
CARDINALS
Starters:
LT Mike Gandy
LG Reggie Wells
C Lyle Sendlein
RG Deuce Lutui
RT Levi Brown
Backups:
G Elton Brown
G Brandon Keith
G Trevor Canfield
T Herman Johnson
T Elliot Vallejo
T Oliver Ross
T Brandon Pearce
C Ben Claxton
C Donovan Raiola
There isn't a Pro Bowl player in the group, but the starters are solid. For most of last season, it was an effective pass-blocking group. It was criticized for its run blocking ability but when given the opportunity, the unit was decent. Gandy is a solid vet who sometimes struggles against elite rushers. But who doesn't? Wells might be the team's best lineman. Sendlein struggled last season but he played with a sore shoulder for most of the year and underwent surgery in the offseason. Lutui is massive but he can have mental lapses. Brown is improving but was he worth the fifth overall pick in 2007? It's questionable. Brown is a decent backup and coaches are high on Herman Johnson, a fifth-round selection this year. Ross has played for Whisenhunt and Grimm before so he could give the club a solid vet as a backup. More from Sports Xchange ...
19.
PACKERS
Starters:
LT Chad Clifton
LG Daryn Colledge
C Jason Spitz
RG Josh Sitton
RT Allen Barbre
Backups:
C Scott Wells
T/G T.J. Lang
T/G Tony Moll
T Jamon Meredith
C/G Duke Preston
T Breno Giacomini
G Andrew Hartline
T Dane Randolph
G/C Evan Dietrich-Smith
Head coach Mike McCarthy doesn't want to mess around in camp trying to identify a starting five. Consequently, the No. 1 line likely won't look any different than it did in the offseason, with the exception of having Clifton back in there after the 32-year-old was given extended time off to rest his chronically ailing knees. The biggest camp battle will be at center. Spitz, the primary starter at right guard the last three years, has the nod because Wells was sidelined the entire offseason after undergoing shoulder surgery. Although Wells has manned the starting spot for four seasons, his durability is a concern. The shifting of Spitz and the unlikely re-signing of veteran free agent Mark Tauscher, who is recovering from major knee surgery done in January, give the Packers a new look on the right side. Sitton and Barbre are unrelenting linemen who play with an edge. Barbre, though, isn't a shoo-in to take over for Tauscher at right tackle. Lang, a fourth-round pick this year, impressed the coaches in offseason work with his athleticism. Giacomini also will be in contention but has a big hill to climb after recuperating the whole offseason from ankle surgery. Meredith, a fifth-round pick, figures to be a keeper as insurance for Clifton. More from Sports Xchange ...
20.
TEXANS
Starters:
LT Duane Brown
LG Chester Pitts
C Chris Myers
RG Mike Brisiel,
RT Eric Winston
Backups:
C/G Antoine Caldwell
G Kasey Studdard
C/G Chris White
T Rashad Butler
For the first time in franchise history, the Texans started the same five linemen for all 16 games. The good news for the team is that the line returns intact for another season. Last year, they meshed well and picked up the zone-blocking scheme as the season developed. Brown proved to be a quality left tackle, and will be given the responsibility of playing every down this season. Pitts still hasn't missed a start since he entered the league in 2002, and worked well with Brown early in the season to make sure Brown had his part down pat. Myers was adequate in his first season, but could be pushed by Caldwell, who is a rookie. He will likely spend more time at guard, but he has the ability to play center. The right side combination of Winston and Brisiel opened up big holes in the running game. That's where Steve Slaton found his biggest gains. Studdard will be fighting to keep his roster job this season after struggling the last few seasons to find his place on the team. Butler will be the primary backup at tackle with Ephraim Salaam no longer on the team. White has the versatility to play center or guard, like Caldwell. More from Sports Xchange ...
21.
REDSKINS
Starters:
LT Chris Samuels
LG Derrick Dockery
C Casey Rabach
RG Randy Thomas
RT Stephon Heyer
Backups:
T Mike Williams
G/T Jeremy Bridges
G/T Chad Rinehart
T Devin Clark
C Edwin Williams
G Rueben Riley
G D'Anthony Batiste
G/C Will Montgomery
T Scott Burley
At midseason 2008, Rabach and LG Pete Kendall were getting All-Pro mentions, Samuels was headed to the Pro Bowl, as usual, and Thomas and RT Jon Jansen were receiving praise for comebacks from devastating injuries. By the end of the year, the line was seen as over the hill as the offense bogged down. Samuels, who turns 32 this month, played for weeks on a balky knee before a torn triceps ended his year in Week 14. Jansen injured a knee that night and missed two games before returning in the finale for what turned out to be the final game of his decade as a Redskin. He was cut in May. Thomas, now 33, played the second half of the season with a herniated disc in his neck that required surgery. Kendall wasn't re-signed after the Redskins brought back Dockery, his predecessor from 2003-06, who's younger and bigger but didn't fare well during two years in Buffalo. Heyer, the only thing close to a proven young lineman, beat out Jansen last August but got hurt in October and couldn't win the job back. Now, he'll try to fend off massive Mike Williams, the fourth pick in the 2002 draft who hasn't played a snap since 2005 and needed to lose 45 pounds to get on the field this spring. More from Sports Xchange ...
22.
CHARGERS
Starters:
LT Marcus McNeill
LG Kris Dielman
C Nick Hardwick
RG Kynan Forney
RT Jeromey Clary
Backups:
LT L.J. Shelton
LT Corey Clark
C/RG Scott Mruczkowski
RG Louis Vasquez
RT Corey Clark
This unit needs to bounce back from a less-than-stellar showing in 2008, especially when it comes to run-blocking. The group is feeling confident with McNeill back from a neck injury and Hardwick another camp removed from his foot injury which kept him from working last summer. The key is the right tackle spot, where Forney or Vasquez will be asked to replace veteran Mike Goff. More from Sports Xchange ...
23.
JAGUARS
Starters:
RT Tony Pashos
RG Maurice Williams
C Brad Meester
LG Vince Manuwai
LT Eugene Monroe
Backups:
LT Tra Thomas
RT Eben Britton
C Dennis Norman
G Uche Nwaneri
G Drew Miller
T Jordan Black
Last year's unit was one of the weak areas on the team, constantly letting defenders get through or around blocks to sack or pressure QB David Garrard. With the free-agent acquisition of Thomas, plus using their first two draft picks to take Monroe and Britton and welcoming back Williams and Manuwai, both of whom missed the entire '08 season with injuries, this has suddenly become an area of strength and depth. Of course, Williams and Manuwai have to prove they're back to full strength and Thomas must show he can still compete with the best despite his turning 35 during the season. Monroe and Britton must live up to the Jaguars' belief in them, as the team's draft record wouldn't be considered sterling. Both of the rookies showed they'll be contributors early with Monroe likely to open at left tackle and Britton a threat to replace Pashos on the right side. Two of last year's starters, Norman and Nwaneri, have to work hard just to make the roster in 2009. More from Sports Xchange ...
24.
BEARS
Starters:
LT Orlando Pace
LG Frank Omiyale
C Olin Kreutz
RG Roberto Garza
RT Chris Williams
Backups:
Josh Beekman
Kevin Shaffer,
Dan Buenning
The addition of free agents Pace and Omiyale, plus a healthy Williams should provide an improved unit this season. Pace, a future Hall of Famer, enters his 13th season but is still an above average player. Omiyale has started just one game in the NFL, but the Bears believe he's ready for prime time. Kreutz, is no longer a Pro Bowl player, but he's still an excellent line leader who plays with smarts and an attitude. Williams got off to a slow start last season after being drafted 14th overall. He suffered a back injury on the second day of training camp, which required surgery, and he wasn't back on the field until the second half of the season, when he played very sparingly. He should be a fixture at one of the tackle spots for years to come. Garza is a limited athlete, but he works well with Kreutz. More from Sports Xchange ...
25.
CHIEFS
Starters:
LT Branden Albert
LG Brian Waters
C Rudy Niswanger
RG Mike Goff
RT Damion McIntosh
Backups:
Colin Brown
Brian De La Puente
Eric Ghiaciuc
Cameron Goldberg
Darryl Harris
Edwin Harrison
Barry Richardson
Wade Smith
Herb Taylor
Tavares Washington
Waters spent the offseason angry and upset with the new Chiefs regime, attending only the mandatory minicamp. When he did show up, he admitted he had a great deal of conditioning to do before the start of training camp. New coach Todd Haley wants his blockers lean and mobile, as guys like Albert and McIntosh have lost a considerable amount of weight and mid-section. Goff was signed as a UFA and was the line's leader during the offseason program. Ghiaciuc and Smith give the Chiefs experienced depth inside, but they lack playing experience on the bench at tackle. Draft pick Brown is strictly a right tackle, as is last year's pick Richardson. More from Sports Xchange ...
26.
RAMS
Starters:
LT Alex Barron
LG Jacob Bell
C Jason Brown
RG Richie Incognito
RT Jason Smith
Backups:
T/G Adam Goldberg
G John Greco
C/G Mark Setterstrom
T Renardo Foster
G Roy Schuening
T Eric Young
T Phil Trautwein
G Roger Allen III
C Daniel Sanders, C Tim Mattran
Barron enters the final year of his contract with the opportunity to make some money, although he wouldn't be an unrestricted free agent if there is no salary cap in 2010. Still, he can establish himself as a top left tackle with a good performance. His strength is not run blocking, which is why the rookie Smith is expected to start out at right tackle, where he will be alongside Incognito. That should create a strong running game to that side. Incognito must learn how to control his emotions, while still playing intensity. Brown has come in and emerged as a leader on the line, which is what the Rams envisioned when they agreed to pay him $37.5 million over five years with $20 million guaranteed ($9 million of which are guaranteed base salaries). Bell is another key for the line. Signed as a free agent from Tennessee in 2008, he had a down year due in part to a hamstring injury. More from Sports Xchange ...
27.
49ERS
Starters:
LT Joe Staley
LG David Baas
C Eric Heitmann
RG Chilo Rachal
RT Marvel Smith
Backups:
Adam Snyder
Tony Wragge
Barry Sims
Alex Boone
Cody Wallace
Joe Toledo
Kyle Howard
Jacob Bender
Matthew Huners
The 49ers signed Staley to a long-term contract extension. They hope they have found a player to manage the quarterback's blind side for a long, long time. The big competition will take place on the right side, pitting Smith, a former Pro Bowl player for the Steelers, against Snyder, who struggled at times at tackle last season. The middle of the 49ers' line is a powerful bunch that should excel in the team's new mindset of a power-running attack. Baas and Rachal are second-round picks who need to step up this season. Heitmann was easily the team's best offensive lineman last season. More from Sports Xchange ...
28.
BILLS
Starters:
LT Langston Walker
LG Kirk Chambers
C Geoff Hangartner
RG Seth McKinney
RT Brad Butler
Backups:
Eric Wood
Andy Levitre
Demetrius Bell
Jonathan Scott
Brandon Rodd
The Bills blew up their dysfunctional 2008 unit and while the new lineup is promising, it is young, untested and pocked with question marks. Walker shifts from right to left tackle protecting Edwards' blind side and will be feeling the heat replacing Pro Bowler Jason Peters, who was traded to Philadelphia. Butler shifts form right guard to right tackle, a spot he's never played in the NFL. Free agent Hangartner should be an upgrade over the departed Duke Preston and Melvin Fowler at center, but both guard spots are up for grabs. McKinney and Chambers have the edge in experience over rookies Wood and Levitre who have more raw talent. Even with Peters, Buffalo's sacks allowed soared from 28 to 36 last year and the offense struggled badly against 3-4 schemes, particularly in the AFC East. More from Sports Xchange ...
29.
RAIDERS
Starters:
LT Mario Henderson
LG Robert Gallery
C Samson Satele
RG Cooper Carlisle
RT Cornell Green
Backups:
C John Wade
C-G Chris Morris
G-T Paul McQuistan
G Jonathan Compas
T James Marten
T Erik Pears
T Khalif Barnes
G/T Marcus Johnson
T Mark Wilson
The lynchpin of the line is Gallery, who never worked out as a tackle but who has developed into a top-flight, cut-blocking guard and a perfect fit for the zone-blocking system. The rest of the unit is full of calculated risks. Henderson, who played well the final three games of the 2008 season, appears to have the edge over free-agent acquisition Barnes, who could emerge on the right. Satele, a two-year starter in Miami, takes over for Jake Grove, who left for the Dolphins in free agency. Carlisle was better in '07 than in '08 but re-signed during free agency. If all goes as planned, Green will be a backup. Pears is an angular former Denver starter and a system fit, while Johnson will give Oakland a try after washing out at guard and tackle at Minnesota. More from Sports Xchange ...
30.
BENGALS
Starters:
LT Andrew Whitworth
LG Nate Livings
C Kyle Cook
RT Andre Smith
RG Bobbie Williams
Backups:
Jonathan Luigs
Dan Santucci
Anthony Collins
Dennis Roland
Andrew Crummey
Scott Kooistra
Evan Mathis
Colin Dow
As this line goes, so will the offense. There are three new starters (Livings, Smith and Cook) while Whitworth moves to left tackle. The new line is a little more agile which is good since this is a zone-blocking team. Whitworth played left tackle at LSU and has seen spot duty there with the Bengals, and he has emerged as one of the leaders of the line after last year's release of Willie Anderson. Smith is continuing to adjust to playing RT and is ahead of the curve. While he does have good footwork, concerns remain about the ability to manage his weight. If there is a prolonged holdout during training camp, Collins might be the starter on opening day. Cook has more size and strength than former starter Eric Ghiaciuc and has been able during OTAs to effectively communicate line calls. More from Sports Xchange ...
31.
BROWNS
Starters:
LT Joe Thomas
LG Eric Steinbach
C Alex Mack
RG Ryan Tucker
RT John St. Clair
Backups:
T George Foster,
G/C Rex Hadnot
G Floyd Womack
C/G Hank Fraley
G/T Isaac Sowells
G Marlon Davis
T Brandon Braxton
G/C Dustin Fry
T Kurt Quarterman
Taking 14 offensive linemen to camp is an indication the Browns should get ready for a long, hot August filled with plenty of hitting. Mangini is looking for the right combination on the line, and that could mean pushing Hadnot ahead of Steinbach or Womack ahead of Tucker. Tucker's problem is staying healthy. He has not played a full season since 2005. St. Clair and Foster will battle to replace Kevin Shaffer as the starting right tackle. Mack will not be handed the starting job at center, but he is the first first-round draft choice in the Kokinis-Mangini era, so he isn't going to sit on the sideline. Hadnot, Fraley, Sowells and Fry have the versatility needed to be backups. Mangini has to find the group that will get a strong push on 3rd-and-1. Pass protection wasn't horrible last year -- 24 sacks allowed -- but the Browns scored only six rushing touchdowns, and that has to improve. More from Sports Xchange ...
32.
LIONS
Starters:
LT Jeff Backus
LG Daniel Loper
C Dominic Raiola
RG Stephen Peterman
RT Gosder Cherilus
Backups:
T Jon Jansen
T Ephraim Salaam
C Dylan Gandy
C Dan Gerberry
G Toniu Fonoti
G Manny Ramirez
T Kirk Barton
T Damion Cook
T Lydon Murtha
Four of the five positions on the line seem secure: Backus at left tackle, Raiola at center, Peterman at right guard and Cherilus at right tackle. All four players are signed beyond this season, with Raiola and Peterman landing extensions in the offseason. Cherilus, a first-round pick last year, sometimes loses focus and could use some competition from Jansen, a veteran trying to prove he's still got it. Loper is a leap of faith at left guard, never having started a regular-season game in four NFL seasons, but he fits the Lions' new profile: big and strong. The Lions are going from a very simple zone running scheme to a more varied attack featuring power running. The hope is that will help a line that has looked bad in recent years look better. More from Sports Xchange ...
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