Offensive Line Rankings and Notes: Week 3

Offensive line related news, injuries and updates, prior to week three of the regular season.

Another action-packed week is in the record books and there's a ton of injury-related offensive line news which has created movement among the rankings. With the benefit of two week's worth of film, some units are in good form and others are struggling.

The big men, the behemoths, the man mountains. Week 3 is here, let's get after it!

UPGRADES

LA Rams up three spots.

The league has lifted right guard Jamon Brown's two-game suspension on Monday and Brown could re-join a Rams' offensive line which has been clicking through two games. Austin Blythe has been excellent in Brown's absence, and reading between the lines at head coach Sean McVay's press conference, the team could stick with Blythe and let Brown provide depth. Jamon Brown has the edge on experience but Brown is actually the younger player at 26 while Blythe is 27. Blythe is much cheaper and offers center versatility. There is a scenario where the team keeps both, and they might have to go to this scenario this week as center John Sullivan did not participate in Wednesday's practice. These rankings predict Sullivan to play and the Rams' line to keep rolling.

San Francisco up four spots.

During Week 2, the 49ers offensive line lost two players to injury in Josh Garnett and Mike Person. Garnett's rehab will be a multi-week affair but Person told coaches and teammates his foot injury would be healed by the home contest against Detroit. Sure enough, Person played 100% of the snaps at right guard and the offense found success on both inside and outside zone plays. This is a small bump to cohesion for a line that has been playing well in the early part of the season.

Cleveland up six spots.

After a choppy Week One, rookie left tackle Desmond Harrison settled down and played well during the Week Two loss at New Orleans. Harrison is an athletic specimen with the rare physical gifts to play left tackle "on an island" (without blocking help from tight ends or running backs). Harrison was injured during preseason (hamstring) and was questionable again this week with a shoulder injury but look for the young player to start the next game and likely the entire season. Harrison has to improve his technique and gain experience but the team may have found a cheap, long-term solution at the spot.

DOWNGRADES

Atlanta down two spots.

Veteran left guard Andy Levitre tore his triceps during the Week 2 win versus Carolina and he has been placed on injured reserve. In his place steps Wes Schweitzer. Schweitzer was last year's starting right guard but he lost the gig in preseason to veteran Brandon Fusco who arrived via free agency. Schweitzer is a massive run blocking asset but can be compromised in pass protection. Schweitzer was awkward lining up on the left side at first, but he settled in as the game progressed. The line takes a small hit without Levitre, but they still grade as a top-tier unit.

Washington down two spots.

The injury bug has hit Washington as starting left guard Shaun Lauvao did not participate in practice this week and is a 'likely inactive' according to Dr. Jene Bremel's mid-week report. Left tackle Trent Williams and right guard Brandon Scherff were forced from (and then returned to) the home loss to Indy. Scherff was briefly replaced by Geron Christian. Ty Nsekhe played a series for Williams. Williams aggravated a chronic left knee injury and is listed as questionable in the mid-week injury report. This rankings expect Lauvao to be out but both Williams and Scherff to be ready for the home game against Green Bay. This is a slight downgrading of the line due to mounting injury concerns. Key players are limping into the contest.

Jacksonville down three spots.

Left tackle Cam Robinson went down in a heap during last week's win over New England. After the game, it was announced Robinson would be out for the year with a torn ACL and he was placed on injured reserve. Josh Wells stepped in for Robinson and he's actually one of the better swing tackle options in the league, having starting experience at both tackle spots over the last few seasons. Still, this is a set back for the Jaguars' line, who grade as more of a mid-tier option without their first-round draft pick from last season.

Pittsburgh down twelve spots.

On the surface, this downgrade is because right guard David Decastro missed last weeks' game with a severely fractured hand, and might miss this week's contest as well. But in actuality, there are several other key injuries, and this lineup is very difficult to predict this week. Besides Decastro, who could cast himself up and play, left guard Ramon Foster was listed as questionable with a knee problem and right tackle Marcus Gilbert is also questionable, battling a hamstring injury. The model assumes only Decastro misses the contest but it could play out a variety of ways. The good news is this game versus Tampa Bay is on Monday Night and the injured players will have an extra day to rejoin the lineup.

Denver down one spot

Right tackle Jared Veldheer is questionable for this week's contest at Baltimore while he is in the league's concussion protocol. If Veldheer misses the contest, Billy Turner would start in his place. Veldheer has been a good addition to the Broncos' offensive line and the reason this downgrade isn't larger is because Veldheer had not vested into full cohesion with the rest the line yet. This hopefully is a short-term injury for Veldheer. The Broncos' line grade currently as a solid, mid-tier option.

Seattle down four spots.

The Seahawks have two key injuries on the offensive line. Starting center Justin Britt was forced from last week's Monday Night Football loss at Chicago and he is questionable with a shoulder injury. Britt was replaced during the contest by Joey Hunt, who did a decent job blocking during the late comeback attempt. Ethan Pocic could have been a center option but he did not participate in Wednesday's practice and might miss the game. Right guard D.J. Fluker, after missing two weeks with a hamstring injury, is still listed as questionable but is 'expected to play' according to Dr. Jene Bremel. This will keep J.R. Sweezy in the lineup. This line is a power blocking unit with Fluker in the lineup but this week's rankings err on the side of caution until the center position stabilizes.

Carolina down eight spots.

Right guard Trai Turner missed last week's loss against Atlanta with a concussion. Tyler Larsen started last week and might get the start again this week against Cincinnati. Turner missed three games last season with a concussion and this recovery might carry a similar time frame. In other news left tackle Chris Clark signed and started versus Atlanta. This allowed Taylor Moton to start at right tackle in place of Daryl Williams who was placed on injured reserve last week. The Panthers' line has been snakebit by injury and currently grade on the cusp of the low-tier.

NY Giants down one spot.

Starting center Jon Halapio suffered an ugly leg injury against Dallas which was later diagnosed as a fractured ankle and leg. Halapio is likely out for the season and with such a severe injury it's even possible his career is in jeopardy. The Giants' traded Brett Jones for a seventh round pick before the season, leaving veteran John Greco to man the pivot. Greco was announced as the starting center this week, but the team also has Spencer Pulley on the roster, and Pulley could factor into the lineup once he learns the system. This line grades as a low-tier option.

Minnesota down One spot.

Right tackle Rashod Hill was forced from last week's game (a tie versus Green Bay) with an ankle injury. Hill has not practiced this week and is questionable to play. This model assumes Hill misses the contest. In his place stepped rookie Brian O'Neill, who won't soon forget his NFL debut. In other news, center Pat Elflein has been a full participant in practice, after missing the first two games, and he could replace Brett Jones in the starting lineup. This Vikings' line grades as in the low-tier but getting Hill and Elflein back would likely boost them to the mid-tier again.

OTHER NEWS

These news blurbs are significant and should be watched but did not affect the current rankings:

ARZ - RT Andre Smith questionable. Smith missed last week's loss to Los Angeles with an elbow injury. John Wetzel got the start. This is still a low-tier line.

BAL - LT Ronnie Stanley is a game time decision. Stanley was forced from last week's game (James Hurst to LT, Orlando Brown Jr. to RT) but says he will be fine for this week's game. These rankings assume he plays but he could get a week off.

CIN - C Billy Price out at least two weeks. Price was forced from last week's win over Baltimore with a foot injury. Price was seen in a walking boot and team says they will re-evaluate him in two weeks. This language is suspicious but Trey Hopkins played decently in Price's place. As Price was a rookie, he did not have full cohesion, so there's no major change to the grade for now. But this is a situation to watch going forward.

DET - RG T.J. Lang questionable with a back injury. Lang missed last week's loss at San Francisco. Kenny Wiggins got the start at right guard. Lang was limited in practice this week but is expected to play.

IND - RT Denzelle Good is out and LT Anthony Castonzo is questionable. After rehabbing his hamstring for six weeks, Castonzo should have rejoined the lineup this week. However Castonzo suffered a setback and the model will not include him until he plays. LeRaven Clark was decent in his place. In related news, Joe Haeg has been starting at right tackle until Denzelle Good can get back to action.

LAC - RT Joe Barksdale is questionable. Barksdale missed last week's win at Buffalo with what looked like a hyper-extended or sprained knee. Sam Tevi got the start last week and will likely get it again this week against the Rams.

NE - RT Marcus Cannon is questionable. Cannon missed last week's loss at Jacksonville with a calf injury. LaAdrian Waddle started last week and could get another start this week. Waddle was victimized several times by edge rush last week and the team hopes Cannon can return quickly.

OAK - RT Donald Penn had a rough game against Denver. Still dealing with adjusting to the right side, Penn allowed two sacks of quarterback Derek Carr by Broncos' defender Von Miller, but one was wiped out by a defensive penalty. Even worse, Penn allowed the pressure which blocked an extra point (and later, the Raiders lost by one point). At this point in the season, Penn should be getting a cohesion boost for settling into his new position but some guys can't make this switch. There are no changes to the grade (Penn won't face Von Miller every week) but the situation bears observation.

PHI - LT Jason Peters is questionable. Peters was forced from last week's home loss against Tampa Bay, but he has already announced he will be ready to go this week, when quarterback Carson Wentz returns from injury against the Indianapolis Colts at home.

TEN - Various injuries. Left tackle Taylor Lewan missed last week (Kevin Pamphile started in his place) but he is likely to play this week against Jacksonville. Right tackle Jack Conklin (offseason knee surgery) has been a limited participant in practice and is probably a week or more away from a real return. RT Dennis Kelly missed last week's game with an illness, allowing second year player Tyler Marz to get his first career start. Lewan's status makes a huge difference. The Titans' line are ranked 13th with Lewan in the lineup and 31st without.

FULL RANKINGS

Rank
Team
Old
Diff
Score
Overall Grade
Run Grade
Pass Grade
Cohesion
Notes
1
PHI
1
0
34.7
A+
A+
A+
5.0
2
LAR
5
3
31.8
A
A+
A-
4.5
RG Austin Blythe likely to keep starting despite Jamon Brown\'s suspension ending.
3
GB
4
1
31.5
A
A
A
5.0
4
KC
7
3
31.0
A
A+
A-
5.0
5
ATL
3
-2
30.9
A
A
A
4.0
LG Andy Levitre injured triceps and goes to IR (Wes Schweitzer).
6
BAL
9
3
30.8
A-
A
B+
5.0
7
NO
10
3
30.8
A-
B+
A
5.0
8
WAS
6
-2
30.6
A-
B+
A
4.5
LT Trent Williams playing injured (small cohesion loss).
9
SF
13
4
30.0
B+
B+
B+
4.5
RG Mike Person returned to the lineup.
10
JAX
8
-2
29.9
B+
A
B+
4.5
LT Cam Robinson torn ACL and goes to IR (Josh Wells).
11
DAL
11
0
29.8
B+
A-
B
3.5
12
OAK
12
0
29.7
B+
A-
B
3.5
13
CHI
14
1
29.3
B
B+
B-
5.0
14
PIT
2
-12
29.2
B
B
B
4.0
RG David Decastro out with a fractured hand (B.J. Finney).
15
NYJ
16
1
29.0
B-
B-
B-
4.5
16
DEN
15
-1
28.8
B-
B-
B-
4.5
RT Jared Veldheer out with a concussion (Billy Turner).
17
DET
19
2
28.5
C+
B
C+
4.0
RG T.J. Lang injured back (Kenny Wiggins)
18
CLE
24
6
28.5
C+
B-
C
4.0
LT Desmond Harrison playing well (individual grade boost).
19
LAC
20
1
28.5
C+
B-
C
4.0
20
TB
21
1
28.5
C+
B-
C
4.0
21
NE
22
1
28.4
C+
C
B-
4.5
22
SEA
18
-4
28.2
C+
B-
C
4.0
C Justin Britt injured shoulder (Joey Hunt).
23
CIN
23
0
27.9
C+
B-
C
3.5
C Billy Price out at least 2 games with a foot injury (Trey Hopkins)
24
MIA
27
3
27.8
C
C+
C-
4.5
25
CAR
17
-8
27.6
C
C+
C-
4.0
RG Trai Turner out with a concussion (Tyler Larsen).
26
NYG
25
-1
27.5
C
C+
C-
4.0
C Jon Halapio fractured leg and ankle and goes to IR (John Greco or Spencer Pulley).
27
MIN
26
-1
27.3
C-
C-
C-
4.0
RT Rashod Hill injured ankle (Brian O\'Neill). C Pat Elfein still rehabbing. (Brett Jones).
28
IND
28
0
27.3
C-
C
D+
4.0
LT Anthony Castonzo questionable with a hamstring injury (Joe Haeg).
29
AZ
29
0
27.3
C-
C
D+
4.0
RT Andre Smith injured elbow (John Wetzel).
30
HOU
30
0
27.2
C-
C
D
3.5
31
TEN
31
0
27.1
D+
C-
D
4.0
RT Jack Conklin/Dennis Kelly questionable (Tyler Marz). RANK #13 if LT Taylor Lewan returns to the line-up.
32
BUF
32
0
26.9
D+
C-
D-
4.5

If you have a question about a player, team or matchup not specifically talked about in this article, please feel free to contact the author via Twitter.

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