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Ravens Insider: Mike Preston: Andrew Vorhees might be the answer to Ravens’ biggest question | COMMENTARY

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Andrew Vorhees might be the best answer to the biggest question about the Ravens this season.

The former Southern California star and 2023 seventh-round draft pick is one of several candidates competing for a starting position on the offensive line. At guard, Vorhees is in the mix with Ben Cleveland, Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu and Josh Jones.

The Ravens have great talent on offense with two of the NFL’s biggest stars in quarterback Lamar Jackson and running back Derrick Henry, but the key will be rebuilding a suspect offensive line that lost three starters in guards John Simpson and Kevin Zeitler and right tackle Morgan Moses.

“We’re in the development business right now with Ben [Cleveland], and you’ve got some of the young guys that we drafted a year ago, like ‘Big Sal’ [Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu] and [Andrew] Vorhees, and you’ve got Daniel [Faalele],” second-year Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken said Thursday. “All those guys are getting invaluable reps now, and obviously, once we put the pads on, for them, [that’s] where it will really be critical.

“We put the pads on, we get a chance to play in the preseason, and then you can assess, ‘Hey, as they keep developing, what are their strengths? [What] do we need to continue to work on?’ And they’re doing a great job now, and I expect them to play at a really high level, I really do.”

The Ravens have had only limited time to work with Vorhees because he missed all of last season after he tore his ACL during the NFL scouting combine on March 5, 2023.

But he appears to be in shape with his conditioning and has good lateral movement. He isn’t as powerful as Cleveland, a 2021 third-round pick, or Jones, a fifth-year veteran who played 13 games last season with the Houston Texans, but he might be more versatile.

He is no little kid at 6 feet 6 and 310 pounds.

“Obviously, I was in the classroom this whole last season,” Vorhees said, “but it just was so much faster than I was anticipating than what it looks like on film. So I feel like I adjusted though this week and it has slowed down a ton since Monday. I had to get used to that again.”

Vorhees, a native of Kingsburg, California, is the type of player most people want to succeed. He was projected to be a much higher draft pick, but those dreams were dashed after his knee injury.

From left, Baltimore Ravens guard Andrew Vorhees and tackle Ronnie Stanley during OTAs open practice session on Thursday at the Under Armour Performance Center. (Kim Hairston/Staff)
Ravens guard Andrew Vorhees, left, and tackle Ronnie Stanley talk during practice Thursday. Vorhees said Stanley has helped him with his transition to the NFL. (Kim Hairston/Staff)

The Ravens took a gamble by trading up and drafting Vorhees in the seventh round, No. 229 overall, and he could end up being a starter, or at least getting significant playing time. He would like to forget the injury, but his memory won’t let go.

“Obviously, I felt a pop. I thought maybe I hyperextended it or something else not as severe,” said Vorhees, who still led the combine with 38 bench press reps after suffering the injury. “But I just remember as soon as I went to the ground I was just laying there for a second, and as I was looking up at the ceiling, I just verbally said out loud, ‘You cannot be serious right now.’ I was kind of laughing, just saying to myself just, ‘Wow, this is crazy.'”

The injury and rehabilitation have given Vorhees a new perspective. Rookies are often in isolation because of their status, but it’s even worse when you’re working with a new medical staff and trainers.

Those long hours in rehabilitation and in the weight room gave Vorhees a new attitude. Those team meetings and film sessions that might have once been boring are exciting again. Few veterans want to attend voluntary organized team activities, but Vorhees couldn’t wait to get back on the field.

He’s like a rookie again, but with more purpose.

“It’s been super exciting to be back out there and in the team setting,” Vorhees said. “It has just been such a reminder of the joy of playing a team sport and just reminded me of why I love the game. I’ve really enjoyed this week of OTAs going against our defense and just looking forward to keep stacking these days.”

Vorhees has gotten a lot of support and instructions from teammates, especially tackles Ronnie Stanley and Patrick Mekari and center Tyler Linderbaum. He is also aware of the tradition here in Baltimore. The Ravens are known for playing great defense and having a strong, physical running game.

Now they have Henry, who has rushed for 100 yards or more in 38 games during the past decade, more than any other running back during that span, according to StatMuse. Vorhees isn’t worried about starting, just competing, something he couldn’t do last year.

“You want competition because it brings out the best of the best, and now that I’m healthy and out there, I’m just selling out all day,” he said. “I think they have 14 or 15 guys in the room right now, all with the same mentality and demeanor. I think [the Ravens] do a really great job of sifting through and finding those players that fit that standard. And I mean, it’s up to us to uphold that standard, and in a sense we’re in a fight that we didn’t start, but it’s up to us to finish it.”

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