Around The Web: Offensive Test, Healthy Ravens, Merriman Cleared

If you are trying to figure out your offensive line the way the Chiefs are, the Baltimore Ravens are one of the last teams you want to face.  But as Adam Teicher reports, the test is coming whether the Kansas City offensive line likes it or not.

“We’ve got no choice,” left tackle Branden Albert said.  “The season’s starting.  We’ve got to come together and play our best.  It’s all we can do.”Chiefslines

Based on the preseason, there’s little reason to believe the offensive line can adequately handle Baltimore’s defensive front.  Kansas City’s quarterbacks were often forced to run for their lives and the Chiefs were able to get their running game going only against a bunch of backups in last week’s game against St. Louis.

The thing was, in general, so ugly that the Chiefs had to sacrifice one of their starters.  That’s what they did with right tackle Damion McIntosh, who was released.

If running back Larry Johnson is worried, though, he’s not showing it.

“Brian Waters is getting those guys ready to go against that Baltimore front,” Johnson said, referring to the Pro Bowl left guard.  “He’s obviously seen all types of looks from that defense before.  I know he’ll get those guys ready.”

In Albert, Waters and center Rudy Niswanger, the Chiefs return three starters from last year.  Many of their preseason problems came on the right side, where Mike Goff plays guard and Ikechuku Ndukwe is the latest starter at tackle.

“The sky’s the limit,” said Goff, who played for one of the league’s better offensive lines the last several years with San Diego.  “The biggest thing that’s required in a good offensive line is just continuity.  You need to get to that point where everybody else is thinking, where you can communicate with the other guys without having much conversation.  That’s where you want to be as an offensive line.  This is a big test.  It’s loud in Baltimore, such a great atmosphere.  We’ll learn a lot about ourselves in that game.”

Goff is half right.  We will learn a lot about the Chiefs offensive line Sunday, but does anyone really believe the sky’s the limit with this group?  If Goff can play more like we’ve seen from him in the past and less like this preseason it would go a long way towards helping the line move forward and keep the Chiefs quarterbacks stay upright.  It’s looks like the right tackle position will be in flux this season, but the line can survive that if the other four spots come together.  We’ll get to see just how far away they are tomorrow.

The Ravens go into their first game not only healthy, but also feeling so good about themselves that they spent their final practice joking around.

Three of the four players on Thursday’s injury report — defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (sprained left ankle) and linebackers Brendon Ayanbadejo (sprained toe on right foot) and Dannell Ellerbe (sprained right medial collateral ligament) — took part in the portion of practice open to the media.

The only player absent was tight end L.J. Smith, who has not practiced the last two days due to a pulled left hamstring.

In a moment of levity, quarterbacks Joe Flacco, Troy Smith and John Beck took turns dunking footballs over the crossbar of the field goal posts behind one end zone.  Flacco and Beck put down one-handed jams, but Smith was the clear winner after completing what appeared to be a 360-degree dunk.

Clearly the Ravens are having trouble getting loose for the first game of the season.

More importantly, it looks like they will have their full roster available to them outside of Smith.  It’s tough enough to open up in Baltimore, but when they aren’t deal with any injury problems it becomes that much steeper of a hill.

Last week, San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman was arrested on suspicion of battery and false imprisonment.  Last night came word the San Diego District Attorney dismissed those charges.

The DA decided not to charge Merriman after her office spent three days reviewing reports from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

“After a thorough review of the investigation into the Sept. 6, 2009, incident at the Poway home of Shawne Merriman, our office has determined there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any crime was committed,” Dumanis said in a statement.  “This case is now closed.  No further comment will be made.”

Informed by reporters that he wouldn’t be charged, Merriman said he couldn’t comment until after he’d spoken with his lawyers.  A few hours later, he released a statement that read in part:

“I want to express my appreciation and gratitude to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s office for carefully reviewing the evidence and not rushing to judgment on these serious allegations.  I also appreciate the objectiveness expressed by the San Diego Charges ownership and management, my teammates, my friends and especially all the fans.  I look forward to continuing to stay focused on my career goals: a great season of football and the success of the San Diego Chargers.”

Huge news for the Chargers.  As we all saw last season, Merriman is the heart and soul of the San Diego defense and he must be on the field if they are going to be the darlings of the AFC that most experts are painting them to be.

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