Offensive Line Rankings and Notes: Week 4

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

Another week in the record books and it's a rarity to have more upgrades than downgrades. Enjoy it while it lasts. The injuries are starting to mount, and over a full season, the trenches become a war of attrition. The teams who rose without blurbs in the rankings did so by avoiding injury.

It's not an earthquake, it's just the massive largeness of the Week 4 offensive line rankings article.

Let's get after it!

UPGRADES

Tennessee up Six Spots.

Left tackle and offensive captain Taylor Lewan missed Week Two's against Houston with a concussion but recovered in time to start Week Three's away game at Jacksonville. Lewan's return moved the line's ranking from the low-tier to the teens. There is further good news this week as right tackles Jack Conklin and Dennis Kelly should both be available for the Week Four game at Philadelphia. Kelly had been hospitalized with a virus before Week Two but he has recovered quickly. Conklin's injury was an ACL suffered in the 2017 postseason, and his rehab has been a lengthy process. The model considers Conklin, a former first-round pick, to make his season debut this Sunday, but it's reasonable to expect time to get into football shape. Backup Kevin Pamphile, who started at both left and right tackle in this young season was placed on the injured reserve list, hurting depth. The exact nature of Pamphile's injury was not disclosed. Still, the Titans' offensive line is getting healthier overall and are knocking on the door of the top tier.

Pittsburgh up Twelve Spots.

Both right guard David Decastro and right tackle Marcus Gilbert missed the Monday Night Football contest at Tampa Bay. Decastro has been healing from a severely fractured hand while Gilbert strained his hamstring, leaving B.J. Finney and Matt Feiler to get starts in their place. The good news is both starters have been full participants in practice this week and are likely to start this weekend for the divisional contest at home against Baltimore. With their All-Pro right guard and pretty good right tackle returning to action, the Steelers once again boast a top-tier unit.

Detroit up Two Spots.

The Lions' offensive line had T.J. Lang healthy and available to start at right guard for the first time this season and the unit looked much improved in the home contest against New England. The franchise broke a 70 game streak without a 100-yard rusher and rookie left guard Frank Ragnow was called out by the coaches for his dominant performance after the game. This upgrade represents the addition of Lang but if the line continues it's hot form, it will be due for further ranking increases. For now, the Lions are a young, mid-tier line, with the upside to eventually be among the best in the league.

Seattle plus five Spots.

Center Justin Britt was a full participant in Wednesday's practice and is likely to start this week's game against Arizona. Britt missed last week's game and was replaced by Joey Hunt. With Britt's return, the Seahawks' line is shaping up, with two veterans at the guard spots in J.R. Sweezy and D.J. Fluker. While everyone is healthy, this could be a fun run blocking unit to watch. As they get healthy and start to block effectively, Seattle re-joins the mid-tier.

Minnesota up eight Spots.

After a lengthy offseason rehab, second-year center Pat Elflein is finally healthy and will likely rejoin the lineup on Thursday night at the Los Angeles Rams. Center Brett Jones had been starting but not doing a spectacular job. Elflein was eased into action last week, playing about two dozen snaps. This news, plus right tackle Rashod Hill's availability, are good trends for this unit, which has more than it's share of injury drama this season. They might not be completely out of the woods, as left tackle Riley Reiff was unsteady last week against Buffalo and listed this week as questionable with an ankle injury. Monitor his availability, but assuming Reiff plays this line is once again graded as a mid-tier unit.

Buffalo up three Spots.

The Bills benched Ryan Groy before the Vikings game, giving experienced veteran Russell Bodine the start. Bodine, who started 64 games with the Bengals, showed well against Minnesota. The left side of Vlad Ducasse and Dion Dawkins opened holes and the coaches showed faith in their young players by trading Marshall Newhouse to the Panthers for a conditional draft pick. The phrase "addition by subtraction" is often overused but it might apply to this situation. This line is still a low-tier unit, but they have clawed out the cellar and are actually trending upward.

DOWNGRADES

Green Bay down Eleven Spots.

The Packers could have two new starters this week when they host the Buffalo Bills, as right tackle Bryan Bulaga was forced from last week's contest at Washington with a bad back and was a limited participant in Wednesday's practice. During last week's game, Jason Spriggs took Bulaga's place. Right guard Justin McCray has already been ruled out with a shoulder injury, and the team has announced journeyman Byron Bell will get the start. Bell is less of a disaster at guard than he was a tackle and Spriggs is gaining experience, but this is still overall bad news for a line which had graded among the league's best. With an entirely new right side, the Packers' line grades out as a mid-tier unit.

Jacksonville down three spots.

The injuries are starting to mount for the Jaguars. After losing their starting left tackle Cam Robinson during Week Two with an ACL injury, the right guard A.J. Cann has missed the last two games with a triceps strain. Josh Wells has been starting for Robinson and Chris Reed has been starting for Cann, who has been a limited participant in practice. This is still a solid unit but their depth is being tested.

OTHER NEWS

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

DEN - RT Jared Veldheer returned to the lineup. Veldheer was in the concussion protocol week two but returned before the road game at Baltimore. The line as a whole had a rough day, committing five penalties and allowing multiple hits and three sacks of quarterback Case Keenum in the loss. They have not been downgraded yet on performance but this might be too generous.

HOU - Greg Mancz started at left guard for Senio Kelemete. Kelemete injured his knee in warmups and may be out for a while. This would normally result in a downgrade but there's no place to go below 32.

IND - RT Joe Haeg is out with an ankle injury. Denzelle Good was thrust into the lineup for the first time this season after rehabbing wrist and knee injuries suffered during the preseason. Left tackle Anthony Castonzo is still not practicing fully and may be a week or more away from full action.

NO - LG Andrus Peat is dealing with an ankle injury. Peat was a surprising late scratch before the game in Atlanta last week and Josh LeRibeus got the start. Peat and left tackle Terron Armstead were limited participants in Wednesday's practice. Armstead usually gets vet days rest but Peat's situation bears observation.

NYG - RT Chad Wheeler started for Ereck Flowers. Despite Flowers' absolutely terrible form of late, it's hard to call this lineup change an upgrade. Last week Wheeler made effective run blocks but had his hands full with defensive end J.J. Watt in pass protection. He is a more technical player but not as gifted of an athlete.

OAK - RT Donald Penn is in the league's concussion protocol. Penn was forced from last weekend's game at Miami after 18 snaps. T.J. Clemmings took Penn's place and played 58 offensive snaps during the game. Penn returned to practice in full on Wednesday but he has not officially been cleared to play on Sunday at home against Cleveland.

WAS - Various injuries (BYE WEEK). The team is on a bye this week which is timely. Left tackle Trent Williams underwent a "bursa sac" procedure but shouldn't miss time. Right tackle Morgan Moses is in the league's concussion protocol, (Ty Nsekhe played 40 snaps at right tackle in the win over Green Bay, allowing the infamous Clay Matthews 'roughing the passer' pressure). Left guard Shaun Lauvao is still out, replaced by usual center Chase Roullier. Veteran Tony Bergstrom started at center for Roullier and the team might stay with this lineup even after Lauvao regains health.

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
2
0
31.8
A
A+
A-
4.5
3
PIT
15
12
31.7
A
A+
A-
5.0
RG David Decastro and RT Marcus Gilbert will likely return to lineup.
4
KC
4
0
31.0
A-
A
A-
5.0
5
ATL
5
0
30.9
A-
A-
A-
4.0
6
BAL
6
0
30.8
A-
A
B+
5.0
7
TEN
13
6
30.1
A-
A
B+
5.0
RT Jack Conklin and Dennis Kelly likely to return this week.
8
NO
7
-1
30.0
A-
B+
A
4.5
LG Andrus Peat late scratch Week 3 with an injured ankle (Josh LeRibeus)
9
SF
9
0
30.0
A-
B+
B+
4.5
10
WAS
8
-2
29.8
B+
A-
B
4.5
RT Morgan Moses in concussion protocol (Ty Nsekhe). LG Shaun Lauvao replaced by Chase Roullier. Tony Bergstom to C.
11
DAL
11
0
29.8
B+
A
B
3.5
12
OAK
12
0
29.7
B+
A
B
3.5
RT Donald Penn in concussion protocol (T.J. Clemmings).
13
JAX
10
-3
29.7
B+
A-
B+
4.5
RG A.J. Cann triceps injury (Chris Reed).
14
GB
3
-11
29.3
B
B+
B-
4.0
RT Bryan Bulaga injured back (Jason Spriggs) and RG Justin McCray injured shoulder (Byron Bell).
15
CHI
14
-1
29.3
B
B+
B-
5.0
16
DET
18
2
29.3
B
A-
C+
4.0
RG T.J. Lang returned to lineup.
17
NYJ
16
-1
29.0
B-
B-
B-
4.5
18
SEA
23
5
28.8
B-
B
C+
4.0
C Justin Britt injured shoulder (Joey Hunt).
19
DEN
17
-2
28.8
B-
B+
B-
4.0
RT Jared Veldheer returned to the lineup.
20
MIN
28
8
28.7
B-
B-
B-
4.5
C Pat Elfein returns to lineup.
21
CLE
19
-2
28.5
C+
B-
C
4.0
21
LAC
20
-1
28.5
C+
B-
C
4.0
22
TB
21
-1
28.5
C+
B-
C
4.0
24
NE
22
-2
28.4
C
C+
B-
4.5
25
CIN
24
-1
27.9
C-
C
D+
3.5
C Billy Price out with a foot injury (Trey Hopkins)
26
MIA
25
-1
27.8
C-
C
D+
4.5
27
CAR
26
-1
27.6
C-
C
D+
4.0
RG Trai Turner out with concussion (Tyler Larsen).
28
NYG
27
-1
27.5
D+
C-
D
4.0
RT Chad Wheeler in for Ereck Flowers (coaching decision).
29
BUF
32
3
27.4
D+
C-
D
5.0
Cohesion upgrade based on Week 3.
30
IND
29
-1
27.3
D+
C
D+
4.0
LT Joe Haeg out but Denzelle Good returned to the lineup.
31
AZ
30
-1
27.3
D+
C
D+
4.0
RT Andre Smith injured elbow (John Wetzel).
32
HOU
31
-1
27.2
D
D
D
3.5

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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