Players are getting hurt, while others are getting healthy. Overall there's just a huge amount of offensive line news around the league. Let's get after it!
Washington plus 5.
Washington's offensive line is coming together. After losing Kory Lichtensteiger to the injured reserve, Spencer Long slid over from guard and has taken hold of the center position. John Sullivan only played 5 snaps last week, all on special teams. Left guard Shaun Lauvao returned to practice this week and most onlookers expect him to rejoin the starting lineup this week. Like most offensive lines, this one plays better with the same players in the same spots. This lineup could be among the league's best if everyone stays healthy.
OAKLAND PLUS 7.
With right tackle Menelik Watson out last week, rookie Vadal Alexander stepped up in the win over Baltimore. Alexander likely returns to the bench this week as Austin Howard has resumed practising. Howard and Watson were in a tight positional battle this preseason and while Watson has the physical upside, Howard is a savvy technician. These players grade out similarly for the purposes of these rankings. While Alexander looked good in his spot start, getting a veteran back in the lineup deserves a bump in the rankings. With increased health, the Raiders' line has been upgraded from the mid-tier to the top-tier, roughly where they started the season.
Houston plus 13.
Houston received some positive news this week as their best lineman, Duane Brown, has returned to practice and is going to make his season debut this weekend against Minnesota. Brown is a Pro Bowl level left tackle and his return sends Chris Clark back to the swing tackle role. In other news, right guard Jeff Allen missed two snaps last week but he is expected to start this week. While Allen was out, Kendall Lamm filled in without incident. Lamm has been a utility player for the Texans' line this season. With Brown back in the lineup, the Texans' line moves from low tier to mid tier.
Cleveland plus 5.
This is one of those oddities of the rankings where a player gets hurt but the model likes the replacement better. Center Austin Reiter got his first career start last weekend against Washington, and he did well. Unfortunately, Reiter tore his ACL during the contest and is out for the season. John Greco slid back to center. This weekend Alvin Bailey will likely come out of the coach's doghouse and get the start at right guard (Greco's spot). Bailey had been riding the pine due to his arrest two weeks ago, but the Browns' injury issues will likely put him back in the lineup, at least until the league's disciplinary process catches up to him. With Bailey and Greco experienced veterans, the Browns' line gets a modest boost in the rankings.
Carolina plus 12.
Left tackle Michael Oher was a late scratch before the game last week versus Atlanta. Oher showed up on the injury report on Friday with a concussion and has not returned to practice this week. Oher remains in the league's concussion protocol. In his place, the team flipped right tackle Mike Rimmers to Oher's spot, and Daryl Williams steps in at right tackle. Remmers and Williams are both capable right tackles but it's highly questionable if either can man the left side. Without their starting left tackle the Panthers' line falls from top-tier to mid-tier in the rankings.
Baltimore minus 4.
Left tackle Ronnie Stanley injured his foot and missed last week's game against Oakland. The team is hopeful that Stanley can play, but Stanley has not practised this week and all signs point to James Hurst getting another start. Hurst played poorly last weekend and owned up to that fact in post-game interviews. After an offseason which saw Eugene Monroe retire, the Ravens' line simply isn't that deep at the tackle position. Until they get their star rookie back, the Ravens' line grades out more like an average unit rather than a good one.
Jacksonville minus 8.
Left guard Luke Joeckel was placed on injured reserve with a massive knee injury. Sources report Joeckel tore his MCL, meniscus and possibly his ACL. It doesn't take a Doctor Jene Bremel to know that sounds terrible. Joeckel's likely seen his last snaps with his current team, as he hits free agency after the season. In his place, Patrick Omameh steps in at left guard. Omameh is known as a rugged run blocker but has limitations in pass protection. The Jaguars' line is trending downward and they currently grade out as a low-tier unit.
Pittsburgh minus 8.
This is the call that will give me the most flack. Coming off of a resounding blowout victory at home versus Kansas City, and being named the NFL's offensive line of the week, why on Earth is this line being downgraded? The short story is that the injuries are mounting. The Steelers could be starting Chris Hubbard at right tackle against the New York Jets this weekend. Both the starter Marcus Gilbert and the swing tackle Ryan Harris are hurt and the team has even practised with center Maurkice Pouncey as an emergency option. That option might be more palatable if backup center Cody Wallace was healthy.
PHI - Lane Johnson to play one more week.
Right tackle Lane Johnson's suspension is official but the team will get one more week of his services while he gets a chance to appeal. After Johnson leaves the lineup (through week 16) the team could elevate rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai to the lineup.
BUF - Cordy Glenn to returns to the lineup.
Although both left tackles, Glenn and his backup Cyrus Kouandijo, were held out of practice on Wednesday, the expectation is that Glenn will be ready for the weekend. If needed, Michael Ola would be the backup.
DEN -Donald Stephenson limited in practice.
The starting right tackle returned to practice this week. While Stephenson returns to health, the current right side has been Ty Sambrailo at right guard and Michael Schofield at tackle.
ATL - Chris Chester limited in practice.
The starting right guard is expected to play this weekend.
CHI - Josh Sitton limited in Practice.
Sitton should be fine for this weekend which is good news as the team is clearly running behind this player. In related news, some sources consider rookie center Cody Whitehair to be among the better rookies in the league.
CIN - CLINT BOLING & Jake Fisher Limited in practice.
Left guard Boling left the game last Thursday night against Miami with a shoulder injury, and Fisher took his place. Both players are listed on the injury report but Boling is expected to start this weekend at Dallas.
DAL - Tyron Smith will try to play, Chaz Green in Walking boot.
Left tackle Tyron Smith has missed the last two games with bulging discs and Chaz Green has done an admirable job in his place. With Green in a walking boot and unlikely to play this weekend against Cincinnati, the team is especially motivated to get Smith back into the lineup. There is no change to the Cowboys' number one offensive line ranking at this time, but this is a situation that bears further observation.
MIA - Mike Pouncey returns to practice.
Center Mike Pouncey has missed the entire season so far with a hairline fracture in his hip. Should Pouncey rejoin the lineup, the line would be in line for a huge upgrade. However, in light of the Hurricane and this game possibly being cancelled, it might not be a relevant question this week. In related news, left tackle Branden Albert is still out and another week to heal can only help the Dolphins' line.
MIN - Andre Smith out while Jeremiah Sirles replaced.
Right tackle Andre Smith only lasted six offensive snaps last week against the New York Giants before injuring his triceps. Jeremiah Sirles did a great job in relief. That fact is the reason for no downgrade at this time.
NE - Marcus Cannon limited in practice.
Right tackle Marcus Cannon was limited in practice this week. Should he not be available, Cameron Fleming would likely be the next man up.
NO - Terron Armstead missed game, Andrus Peat replaced.
If the Saints' didn't have a bye this week, this news would warrant a downgrade. While Peat finds left tackle easier than left guard, it's better for the offense if Armstead suits up. Check back next week, if Armstead is still out, a downgrade will occur. The line seriously struggled in the run game in the tight win over San Diego.
NYJ - Winters out with a concussion, Qvale Replaced.
Right guard Brian Winters concussed himself headbutting a defender in the loss against Seattle. Winters received a 15 yard personal foul penalty and has been in the league's concussion protocol since. Winters wasn't great and as Brent Qvale is a decent enough player, there's no real downgrade at this time.
Week 5 Matchups of Note
- 8th OAK O-line vs. 31st SD defensive front seven (+23).
- 5th CIN O-line @ 26th DAL defensive front seven (+21).
- 10th CHI O-line @ 30th IND defensive front seven (+20).
- 21st TB O-line @ 1st CAR defensive front seven (-20).
- 24th DET O-line vs. 4th PHI defensive front seven (-20).
- 22nd TEN O-line @ 7th MIA defensive front seven (-15).
As usual, if you have a question about a team not specifically talked about in this article, please feel free to contact me via twitter or in the Shark Pool.
Week 5 Offensive Line Rankings
|3||WAS||8||5||31.15||A-||A-||A-||Lauvao to return.|
|9||CLE||14||5||30.23||B||B||B-||Reiter out (ACL), Bailey returns.|
|14||HOU||27||13||29.6||B-||B-||B-||Brown to return.|
|15||CAR||3||-12||29.35||B-||B||B-||Oher out (concussion).|
|16||BAL||12||-4||29.15||C+||B-||C||Stanley likely out (foot).|
|18||IND||23||5||29.08||C||C+||C-||Reitz and Good to return.|
|23||JAX||16||-7||28.53||C+||C||C+||Joeckel out (MCL, ACL).|
|26||PIT||19||-7||28.4||C||C||C-||Gilbert likely out.|
|28||MIA||28||0||28.05||C-||C||C-||Albert out, Pouncey in.|
Week 5 Defensive Front Seven Rankings
|9||Kansas City||Houston on PUP.|
|14||New York (A)|
|16||New York (N)|
|26||Dallas||McClain sus. 6 games.|
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