2009 Offensive Line Rankings

| July 2, 2010

This has probably been the most-requested article we’ve undertaken and unlike similar pieces we’ve done in the past, it concentrates purely on the five guys on the offensive line. Resident offensive line junkie Neil Hornsby starts by taking us through how we came up with our ratings:

It’s important to start by saying that to come up with this set of rankings, we didn’t just stick our collective fingers in the air, lick them sagely and say, “Hmm … Green Bay, about No. 22, do you agree?” We make this point on the basis that when reading such articles many suspect it’s a more a question of reading Hog entrails than any particular methodology. How else could anyone possibly rank the offensive line? Well here’s our system, so feel free to comment in our forum if you think this isn’t that much different than the astrologically tainted fare that has become the norm.

During the season, we watch and rate each lineman on each play. When considering run blocking, we look at and grade how successful the player was in achieving what he set out to do. This is an important point: We have no knowledge of the actual assignment but can see pretty clearly on most occasions what was attempted. It is possible that we could incorrectly grade a player for making a positive block on the wrong defender, but our rebuttal here is twofold: Most blocking schemes are so clear it’s usually obvious when this happens and secondly, it doesn’t happen very often as players who consistently fail mentally get weeded out quickly.

When looking at pass protection, we not only include sacks but also hits, hurries and the number of snaps each player spends pass blocking. In addition, we take account how long a quarterback has to get rid of the ball. So, for example, if a quarterback has 6 seconds, runs about like a headless chicken and takes a 10-yard sack on second and six, we aren’t about to put that on the line.

Next, a quick word about penalties and a “Mea Culpa” from me personally. On the site, almost all the grading is rightly normalized based on the number of times the player performed that action. An exception is penalties. For reasons which now sound ridiculous, I decided that a player committing four penalties in 1,000 snaps is somehow worse than a player giving up three penalties in 50 snaps. Clearly this is wrong and although it hasn’t been adjusted on the site yet (watch this space) I have amended it for use in this article.

My apologies to all and my thanks to all those who pointed out (in varying degrees of bluntness) what an idiot I’d been. Taking run blocking, pass protection and penalties into account provides us with a set of grades for each lineman in each facet of their play. Summing these across each team gives us the rankings below.

Finally, it’s important to note these rankings are all based on performance in 2009 and the team each player took the field for then. While we have reflected on some of the offseason changes in the text, the ratings are only concerned with last season.

No. 32 — Oakland Raiders (Run No. 29, Pass No. 31, Penalties No. 30) Not the worst in any facet but bottom three in all and, most disturbingly, very little has been done to address any of it. In fact, replacing departed Cornell Green at right tackle with Khalif Barnes, if anything, looks a retrograde step. Is this out of the frying pan and into the deep-fat fryer for Jason Campbell?
Best Player: Left guard Robert Gallery when he was on the field but the most consistent of those with over 700 snaps was right guard Cooper Carlisle.
Biggest Concern: That Mario Henderson still looks like he will be the starting left tackle. He allowed 8 sacks, 17 hits and 31 pressures last year and was our lowest-ranked pass-protector by some margin.
No. 31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Run No. 31, Pass No. 28, Penalties No. 25) Nobody underperformed as much as this group. Donald Penn, Jeremy Trueblood and Jeff Faine can and must do better. In fact, in 2008 Penn and Trueblood had extremely creditable years. It was a remarkable decline.
Best Player: Penn was very poor at left tackle, but it’s a mark of how badly the whole line played that he was still better than the rest.
Biggest Concern: That someone, somewhere (who has a vote) thinks Davin Joseph is a Pro Bowler. He’s not a bad pass-protector, but surely a right guard makes waves through his sound run blocking and, in that respect, Joseph is the worst of an awful group.
No. 30 Buffalo Bills (Run No. 25, Pass No. 27, Penalties No. 32) They tried to upgrade last year but everything they attempted failed to a greater or lesser extent. Even picking up Geoff Hangartner to play center, which looked vaguely sensible on paper, turned into a disaster as Hangartner really struggled to protect his QB. They’ve now brought in Cornell Green, who was let go by Oakland, at RT. This isn’t quite as mad as it initially sounds because if Green can sort out his penalty issues (called 13 times), he’s a pretty reasonable player.
Best Player: Although RG Eric Wood struggled at times before being injured, he did show some skill.
Biggest Concern: That Demetrius Bell appears to be sticking around at LT. Maybe paying Jason Peters wouldn’t have been such a bad idea after all.
No. 29 Washington Redskins (Run No. 30, Pass No. 29, Penalties No. 21) After a horrendous year Washington tried to upgrade through the draft and by trading for Jammal Brown, but how this will all work out is open to speculation and debate. Brown wasn’t as good as advertised before his injury and given how poorly his replacement, Jermon Bushrod, played last year, the fact the Saints let him go isn’t a good sign for the Redskins.
Best Player: Left guard Derrick Dockery had a solid season returning from Buffalo. His run blocking wasn’t as good as before he left, but he was the only player to make a good attempt at protecting his QB.
Biggest Concern: How the tackle situation pans out in particular, is Trent Williams closer to Joe Thomas or Duane Brown?
No. 28 Kansas City Chiefs (Run No. 28, Pass No. 26, Penalties No. 26) Branden Albert showed signs of being a reasonable player in between giving away 13 penalties and played much better down the stretch. Similarly, Rudy Niswanger isn’t a lost cause and was generally competent in the middle. Unfortunately, he let himself down with four poor games, but if he can minimize these performances he may be a keeper.
Best Player: With Brian Waters‘ play in decline, new signing Ryan Lilja automatically fills this role.
Biggest Concern: That the Chiefs coaching staff insisted on playing ex-Patriot Ryan O’Callaghan at RT despite him not performing as well as Ike Ndukwe, who started the first three games. You can credit them for sticking to their guns, but a more flexible approach may be better suited to a team yet to turn a corner.
No. 27 Arizona Cardinals (Run No. 11, Pass No. 32, Penalties No. 22) With Matt Leinart now in the driver’s seat (although we wouldn’t bet against Derek Anderson being the man at some stage this year) and Beanie Wells looking like a keeper, the relative merits of this line (i.e. being much better run than pass-blockers) may be better suited to what lies ahead.
Best Player: C Lyle Sendlein was the best of a poor bunch last season but, as bad a year as Alan Faneca had pass blocking in 2009, he still looked like pick of the crop here.
Biggest Concern: Levi Brown has struggled in pass protection since he was a rookie. Last year he gave up 9 sacks, 16 hits, 28 hurries and was penalized 11 times as a RT. Will a change to LT be the straw that breaks Leinart’s back?
No. 26 Chicago Bears (Run No. 20, Pass No. 23, Penalties No. 31) The good news for Bears fans is that — incredibly — after moving to LT, Chris Williams turned a poor season around and played pretty well. Can he keep it up? Playing RT, he gave up 5 sacks, 9 hits and 27 hurries in 11 games. In the five games he played LT those fell to 2 sacks, 0 hits and 7 hurries.
Best Player: After a couple of dodgy years C Olin Kreutz was back to something like his best. If he can just reduce his penalty count (six), he’ll work his way back to the top flight in his position.
Biggest Concern: LG was a rotation between Frank Omiyale and Josh Beekman in 2009, with neither making much of a play to take the role long term. Giving Williams some consistency on his inside shoulder would be helpful.
No. 25 Minnesota Vikings (Run No. 32, Pass No. 5, Penalties No. 4) Nowhere was there a more unbalanced display than in Minnesota. Brett Favre had huge swathes of time to pass, as most of the line protected him like a fragile relative, but Adrian Peterson couldn’t find daylight without running over a few defenders first. The whole zone-blocking scheme was an unfathomable mess and Peterson’s production suffered as a result.
Best Player: LT Bryant McKinnie was probably the least-bad run-blocker of a thoroughly shoddy group.
Biggest Concern: C John Sullivan was only adequate in pass protection and really struggled to get any movement at the point of attack.
No. 24 Pittsburgh Steelers (Run No. 27, Pass No. 18, Penalties No. 17) Things seemed to be moving in the right direction, with three of five starting positions playing at least reasonably well, until Willie Colon suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in offseason workouts. The grades are dragged down massively by center Justin Hartwig, RG Trai Essex and backup Ramon Foster.
Best Player: Unfortunately for the Steelers, RT Colon is one of the most underrated players in the game. His pass protection is as good as there is but he needed to work on reducing his penalties (nine).
Biggest Concern: Maurkice Pouncey was brought in to address Hartwig’s poor play, but Essex remains as probably the least-effective starting RG around.
No. 23 Jacksonville Jaguars (Run No. 12, Pass No. 30, Penalties No. 1) A somewhat uneven overall performance was highlighted by rookie LT Eugene Monroe, who blocked well for the run but struggled to keep David Garrard upright. Worthy of note is the fact they averaged fewer than five penalties per position and were our top-rated team for lack of penalties.
Best Player: RG Uche Nwaneri was the only lineman to buck the trend of doing better in the running than passing game and didn’t give up a single penalty in 935 snaps.
Biggest Concern: Eben Britton gave away fewer sacks than Monroe but allowed 40 hurries, tops amongst tackles despite missing a game through injury.
No. 22 Green Bay Packers (Run No. 13, Pass No. 24, Penalties No. 20) Lots of players, lots of permutations, but how many viable options? Due to injury, many players got extended playing time in 2009 but not many came away with an enhanced reputation.
Best Player: RG Josh Sitton played every offensive snap and looked a quality player in both phases of play.
Biggest Concern: The health of the two veteran tackles is paramount, because if Chad Clifton or Mark Tauscher can’t make it, Bryan Bulaga had better be ready. We’ve seen what happens with Allen Barbre, T.J. Lang or Daryn Colledge at tackle.
No. 21 San Diego Chargers (Run No. 22, Pass No. 22, Penalties No. 13) Marcus McNeill, Kris Dielman and Nick Hardwick are all reasonable players who have been unjustly promoted beyond their ability by a media that tenuously links brilliance in other positional groups with excellence on the OL. They all need to start playing up to that reputation.
Best Player: It’s a sad indictment that their best player in 2009 may not even start in 2010. Backup center Scott Mruczkowski came in early in Week 1, played superbly and was then benched for Hardwick on his return.
Biggest Concern: Getting McNeill on the field. Despite his mediocrity, the alternative (Brandyn Dombrowski) was so bad Tra Thomas had to be brought in for cover.
No. 20 Denver Broncos (Run No. 16, Pass No. 21, Penalties No. 18) The interior of the Broncos line went off a performance cliff in 2009. Was it a season too far for Casey Wiegmann and Ben Hamilton (who were both brilliant in 2008) or something else? Whatever the answer, this group appears to be in free-fall and it’s a good bet they’ll be further down the tree in 2010.
Best Player: Yes it was LT Ryan Clady, but he’s still not the player many would have you believe.
Biggest Concern: Where to start? Clady is injured, third-round rookie J.D. Walton looks to be top of the depth chart at C and Ryan Harris is coming back from both an uneven season and injury.
No. 19 St. Louis Rams (Run No. 14, Pass No. 15, Penalties No. 27) A generally acceptable all-around job was obscured by indiscipline and penalties. Richie Incognito‘s temper caused him to be jettisoned mid-season and Alex Barron‘s penchant for false starts found him ironically taking Flozell Adams‘ place in Dallas.
Best Player: No one stood out, but LG Jacob Bell was consistent in all facets of his performance.
Biggest Concern: After a quite awful 2008, Adam Goldberg (playing both RG and RT) came through with a perfectly respectable 2009 and if you consider only his work at RT, you can upgrade that to “good.” Will the Rams kick him inside again and potentially move the “stable” RT position back into a state of flux?
No. 18 Detroit Lions (Run No. 18, Pass No. 19, Penalties No. 16) The Lions are a team on the up and the offensive line is no exception. It’s not a dominating group yet, but if Gosder Cherilus can make a similar improvement to the one he made over his rookie year and Stephen Peterman can come back from injury at a level similar to that he was playing before Week 10, it may become one.
Best Player: The Lions made a superb move — under the radar of most — to pick up Rob Sims from the Seahawks, turning their biggest weakness (LG) into a major strength.
Biggest Concern: Jeff Backus has been a bell-cow for this line for some time. We thought his poor 2008 season may have been his last in Detroit but we were wrong and he played very well. Can he maintain his form from the 2009 season?
No. 17 – Seattle Seahawks (Run No. 26, Pass No. 7, Penalties No. 19) The Seahawks passed more than any other team and as a result became pretty adept at protecting their QB. Or was it they were such poor run-blockers they had little option but to throw? Right guard Max Unger made this point in microcosm as one of the NFL’s best pass-blocking guards and one of the worst in the running game.
Best Player: A mediocre performance by Sean Locklear still comes out on top. To be fair to him he played the whole season out of position at LT and should be back at RT this year.
Biggest Concern: The left side. Rookie first rounder Russell Okung will be the LT and when you combine that with likely new LG Ben Hamilton, who was rightly dumped like a brick by Denver after an extremely poor showing last season, you have to worry.
No. 16 Indianapolis Colts (Run No. 23, Pass No. 17, Penalties No. 3) The fact that this was our top-ranked team in terms of overall pass protection just goes to show how much a part the QB and running back play in limiting negative plays. The bottom line is the group was a fairly mediocre bunch made to look much better than it was by its other-worldly field general.
Best Player: Three years ago Jeff Saturday was the best center around, but he’s regressed and others have come through. That said, he was still good enough to stand at the head of this unit.
Biggest Concern: Last year the clear weakness of the line was LT Charlie Johnson. It’s almost as if the Colts are saying “better the evil we know,” as they made no moves at all to upgrade in the off season so far.
No. 15 Carolina Panthers (Run No. 19, Pass No. 20, Penalties No. 5) Unlike most of the second-year tackles, Jeff Otah regressed in 2009, having some bad days in pass pro, most notably against the Dolphins on Thursday Night Football. The RG position is still a worry, and Otah will need to step up his play to ensure the right side balances up to the left.
Best Player: Center Ryan Kalil really excelled last year and, unlike some players, his Pro Bowl berth was well-deserved.
Biggest Concern: Last season Mackenzy Bernadeau appeared to get worse, game by game, after his promotion to the starting lineup. It looks like he may be penciled in as the starting RG.
No. 14 San Francisco 49ers (Run No. 24, Pass No. 14, Penalties No. 2) Interestingly, this line’s general pass blocking was pretty good and was dragged down by the man that simply refuses to go away, regardless of how poorly he plays: RT Adam Snyder. The 49ers first tried to replace him with Marvel Smith, who couldn’t even make it to Week 1, and then brought in Tony Pashos (not a man renowned for his protection), who did OK before getting injured. As a result, Snyder played 507 passing plays and gave up 10 sacks, 8 hits and 30 hurries.
Best Player: Quietly, center Eric Heitmann does a solid job while also avoiding injury, something that can’t be said for the other contender here — LT Joe Staley, who only managed five full games.
Biggest Concern: Will one or both of the rookies Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati pan out? It’s always difficult to say, but next year’s ranking will almost certainly be a direct consequence of the answer to that question.
No. 13 Houston Texans (Run No. 21, Pass No. 16, Penalties No. 7) This workmanlike group relied on Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels to disguise some of its frailties. Given the way they tend to make the most of what they’ve got, it’s always come as a bit of a surprise to us they prefer Kasey Studdard over Chris White or Antoine Caldwell. We’re absolutely sure that Studdard being the son of coach Gary Kubiak‘s old teammate, Dave Studdard, has nothing to do with it.
Best Player: Center Chris Myers had a fine season and only a plethora of quality players at this position in the AFC stopped him getting more attention.
Biggest Concern: Duane Brown, although improved from his rookie year, continued to struggle with pass protection. He allowed 7 sacks, 11 hits and 35 hurries as well as giving up eight penalties.
No. 12 Atlanta Falcons (Run No. 17, Pass No. 10, Penalties No. 15) Because of the quality of some of the skill-position players, most notably the running backs and tight ends, this line probably gets a slightly better reputation than it deserves. I’ve heard Justin Blalock called a good player (his run blocking is consistently poor) and Harvey Dahl, decent player though he is, seems to have had his status pushed beyond reality. That said, it’s still a good group, particularly when it comes to protecting Matt Ryan.
Best Player: Todd McClure is getting on in years but he hasn’t hit the wall yet and was one of the better centers in the NFC last year.
Biggest Concern: LT Sam Baker has been injured a lot, and when he wasn’t hurt he shipped more pressure than you’d hope. A full season of starting would be ideal to understand if he’s the future or they need to move on.
No. 11 Tennessee Titans (Run No. 15, Pass No. 11, Penalties No. 14) When a player gets 2,000 yards rushing the line clearly deserves some credit, but it’s worth pointing out nearly 1,000 of those came from runs outside the tight end. It should also be noted that the closer you got to the center, the less effective the halfbacks became, as Kevin Mawae really struggled with his run blocking. In Week 14 against St. Louis he was destroyed by the likes of Dorell Scott, Clifton Ryan and Leger Douzable. The surprise here isn’t that he’s without a job, just that he remarkably made the Pro Bowl.
Best Player: RT David Stewart wasn’t as good as in 2008, when he should have been a Pro Bowler, but he still played very well.
Biggest Concern: There were times when Michael Roos looked a shadow of the player he was the previous season. He improved over the season, but it would be great if he could make a fast start and get back to his best and allow this to be seen as a bump in the road.
No. 10 Dallas Cowboys (Run No. 3, Pass No. 25, Penalties No. 28) Flozell Adams finally worked his way out of Dallas with a succession of stupid penalties and sloppy pass protection. He is still a very good run-blocker for a LT and may work his way onto a run-first team or the Raiders. In fact, the whole of the line did a good job opening holes and it was strange to see Marion Barber being so average in exploiting them. More carries for Felix Jones look certain here.
Best Player: Center Andre Gurode did a fabulous job of blocking for the run and probably just takes this over Kyle Kosier, who seemed to implode in the postseason. That said, giving up 2 sacks, 5 hits, 15 hurries and 9 penalties means Gurode was lucky to get his Pro Bowl nod.
Biggest Concern: When you are 28th in the NFL in giving away penalties, picking up Alex Barron to compete at LT smacks of desperation. We would much prefer to see Doug Free starting.
No. 9 Philadelphia Eagles (Run No. 10, Pass No. 8, Penalties No. 23) With the emphasis the Eagles put on their O-Line, they probably expected a better result than this, but the truth is they were probably lucky to fare as well as they did. When the expected right-side combination of the Andrews brothers failed to take shape, fans feared the worst as Winston Justice was promoted to RT. Against all the odds he actually played pretty well and has now made the position his own.
Best Player: Center Jamaal Jackson was head and shoulders over everyone else and had the distinction of not giving up a single penalty in 926 snaps. Unfortunately, he’s likely to miss the start of the season while rehabbing an ACL torn late in the season.
Biggest Concern: Only two things come to mind: 12 penalties are far too many for your franchise LT, Jason Peters, to give away and the Jackson injury could be a problem.
No. 8 Cleveland Browns (Run No. 9, Pass No. 9, Penalties No. 10) Perhaps a surprise in many people’s eyes, but a lot of the quality here is masked by deficiencies at the other positions. The right side still looks like it needs work but there is extreme talent in the younger players. Special mention should be made of Alex Mack, who was cruelly overlooked as even a nominee for Offensive Rookie of the Year despite being in the top five at his position.
Best Player: In our mind LT Joe Thomas is the best offensive lineman in the NFL — as good a run-blocker as he is pass-protector.
Biggest Concern: The only thing more staggering than the lack of appreciation in some quarters for Thomas (only 18 of 50 Associated Press voters thought him in the top two tackles — hang your heads in shame, gentlemen!) is the fact that some pundits still see LG Eric Steinbach as a quality player and not the liability he’s become over the last few years.
No. 7 Cincinnati Bengals (Run No. 8, Pass No. 6, Penalties No. 29) This is a huge positive move for the Bengals, but you can’t help thinking that but for some strange coaching decisions it could have been even better. With Evan Mathis installed as the full-time starting LG the Bengals won six of seven games and he played as well as anyone. But when he returned from mid-season injury the coaches saw fit to rotate him with the vastly inferior Nate Livings. In addition, as the season wore on, the permutations and frequency of use of unbalanced lines became less a sign of clear strategy and more an indication of desperation.
Best Player: For many years RG Bobbie Williams has been as good and consistent player as you can find, but the time it took them to resign him suggests even the team itself doesn’t realize his worth.
Biggest Concern: Can the coaches just settle on the best five guys they have and stop trying to over-think the whole thing?
No. 6 New York Giants (Run No. 6, Pass No. 12, Penalties No. 8 ) The Giants had many problems in 2009 but the line — despite not playing as well as in previous years — was by no means a real issue, and it will be a surprise if they make any changes to the group not forced on them by injury.
Best Player: RG Chris Snee is now rightly recognized as one of the best guards around and, with C Shaun O’Hara and RT Kareem McKenzie, forms a devastating platform for running right.
Biggest Concern: When the Giants handed LT David Diehl a long-term contract after their Super Bowl win, it seemed more like an act of blind loyalty than strategic sense in locking up a quality performer. The subsequent two years have borne that out as he continues to be the odd man out in a group of top-drawer linemen.
No. 5 Baltimore Ravens (Run No. 5, Pass No. 3, Penalties No. 24) Let’s not speculate too much on the real reason for the switch of sides for tackles Jared Gaither and Michael Oher but, to be absolutely clear, we can’t see any on-field or performance reason for the move. In our opinion, this is being driven entirely by off-field considerations. Gaither is top-five LT and Oher’s worst games came at that position. That’s not to say he can’t do the job, but why on earth would you make the change on speculation?
Best Player: Probably Gaither although, make no mistake, center Matt Birk had a sensational first year in Baltimore.
Biggest Concern: Only how the switch will pan out. Without this move, our money would have been on this being the top line of 2010.
No. 4 New Orleans Saints (Run No. 2, Pass No. 13, Penalties No. 6) With three of five players at the top of their game (and it would have been four but for Jon Stinchcomb‘s playoff debacle after a superb regular season) all looks well in the big easy. But, game results aside, Jermon Bushrod struggled badly all year and dragged the Saints down to this ranking.
Best Player: Yes, RG Jahri Evans was the star here and certainly the best run-blocker around, but spare a thought for LG Carl Nicks, who quietly had a brilliant and possibly more balanced performance.
Biggest Concern: Bushrod seems to have inherited the LT position as the Saints appear to be taking the approach that if they won with him once, they can win with him again. Charles Brown has been drafted in, but we’re not sure Zach Strief wouldn’t be a better short-term solution.
No. 3 New England Patriots (Run No. 4, Pass No. 4, Penalties No. 11) This is an extremely balanced group that does most things well. It is also probably the best group of screen-blockers around. Having said that, it was remarkable how quickly a strength like the defensive line became a real weakness and it’s possible, although much less likely, a similar thing could happen here.
Best Player: When he was on the field, Stephen Neal did a fantastic all-around job. But he missed a quarter of the season with injury.
Biggest Concern: Logan Mankins isn’t at all happy about his contract, and three-fifths of the others are getting old at the same time. Luckily, in Dan Connolly, Mark LeVoir and particularly Sebastian Vollmer the Patriots have potential replacements of high quality.
No. 2 Miami Dolphins (Run No. 7, Pass No. 1, Penalties No. 9) It was only two and a half years ago that the Dolphins’ starting unit included Chris Liwienski, Samson Satele, L.J. Shelton and Vernon Carey playing out of position at LT (we could also mention Rex Hadnot, but we actually think he’s a pretty decent player). Things have come on a long way, as the Dolphins have emphasized line strength and delivered. They paid a hefty sum for Jake Grove last year, but when he was on the field he played brilliantly. Carey is now one of the best RTs there is and looks a different player than the 2007 version.
Best Player: If you choose an LT with the first pick in the draft, you have to hit it spot on and that’s just what the Dolphins did when they selected Jake Long.
Biggest Concern: The guards are nowhere close to as settled as the other positions, but both Nate Garner and Joe Berger got extended playing time and looked very worthy. In addition, Richie Incognito was brought in for a trial and if he can check his indiscipline problems at the door, he can definitely play football.
No. 1 New York Jets (Run No. 1, Pass No. 2, Penalties No. 12) In the copy-cat world which is the NFL, it’s only a mild surprise that our three top-ranked teams all inhabit the AFC East. With the Patriots having ruled the roost for so long, both the Dolphins and Jets knew what they needed to do to compete and that was build strong offensive lines. Among the starters, only Alan Faneca played anything below superbly, and he was let go. That just proves how serious these teams are about building these units.
Best Player: Nick Mangold is utterly unquestioned as the best run-blocking and all-around center in the game and, ipso facto, he’s the best player on a great OL.
Biggest Concern: With Faneca gone, the LG is open with no clear favorite to take over. The competition looks to be between Matt Slauson, who only saw 14 snaps last year and rookie second-rounder Vladimir Ducasse.

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