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Wagner gets another vote of confidence

6/13/2014

The big winner from the Baltimore Ravens draft was Ricky Wagner because the team didn't use one of its nine picks on an offensive tackle.

Wagner has received another vote of confidence this month as a result of the Ravens not making a move. Nearly two weeks into June, the Ravens haven't signed Eric Winston or any other free agent offensive tackle like many expected them to do.

Heading into next week's mandatory minicamp, Wagner remains the Ravens' most unexpected starter, working with the first team at right tackle.

"To me, Ricky has been -- I don't want to say he's a surprise, because I expected him to play well -- but I think we put a lot on his plate early walking in here as a starter, new scheme and those types of things," offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said. "He has responded and hasn't missed a rep. He plays very hard in what we're doing, so we just have to keep going. But I've been very pleased with Ricky."

The Ravens have a hole at right tackle after five-year starter Michael Oher signed a four-year, $20 million deal with the Tennessee Titans in free agency. It was the right move not to overpay for Oher, but it was a surprise that the Ravens didn't address the position this offseason.

A fifth-round pick from a year ago, Wagner struggled when he had to replace an injured Oher in last year's season opener. He got better throughout his rookie year as the team's No. 6 offensive lineman, playing 12 percent of the offensive snaps when the team wanted an extra blocker on the field.

The Ravens realized that Wagner needed a lot of snaps to gain confidence in his technique, and they've been giving him plenty of reps during the offseason practices.

Ryan Jensen was considered his top competition, but the Ravens moved him back to guard this week. There's still a chance that the Ravens could sign a veteran free agent (the Ravens have been known to do so leading up to the regular-season opener), but it doesn't seem like the team wants to move left guard Kelechi Osemele to right tackle, where he started 16 games in 2012.

"[Osemele] gives us flexibility because he can move out to tackle, but I sure like the way he and Eugene [Monroe] look over on that left side," coach John Harbaugh said. "That's the direction we're heading right now and hopefully we can maintain that course."

The Ravens appear to be taking that same course on the right side of the line as well. After giving Wagner this vote of confidence, it's up to him to prove he's a starting right tackle in this league.