Offensive Line Rankings and Notes: Week 9 - Footballguys

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

UPGRADES

Indianapolis up five slots.

The Colts' rushing attack enjoyed a huge day at Oakland, amassing over 200 rushing yards for the second time in as many weeks. After starting the season playing musical chairs, the lineup has solidified in the last month. Rookie Braden Smith has started the last four games at right tackle and appears to have locked down the job, while street free agent Mark Glowinski stepped in to start the last three games at right guard. The new look right side isn't how the front office drew it up this offseason, but both players are executing their blocks. At center, Ryan Kelly looks mobile and healthy, and the left side of rookie guard Quenton Nelson and left tackle Anthony Castonzo has also shown improved form. Having the veteran Castonzo available for the last three contests has been huge, not only for Andrew Luck's pass protection but it has taken the pressure off of the number six overall pick in Nelson to be a world beater by himself. The inside and outside zone runs favored by Colts' offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni have been working as of late and it's because the line is coming together as a single unit. The Colts' check in at 14th in the latest ranking, an above-average mid-tier unit, within sight of the top-tier.

Oakland up 15 slots.

After missing the last three games, All-Pro left guard Kelechi Osemele could finally be back in the lineup for the Thursday Night contest against San Francisco. According to Dr. Jene Bremel's midweek injury expectations, Osemele is reportedly wearing a brace and moving around well. Even though he is officially listed as questionable, assuming their best lineman is back in the fold the Raiders' offensive line grades once again as a mid-tier unit, up from the dungeon of the low-tier.

Arizona up two slots.

The Cardinals' offense showed signs of life in the home victory over San Francisco. Besides the playcalling duties which were handed over to assistant coach Byron Leftwich, having left guard Mike Iupati healthy was also a helpful aspect which cannot be overlooked. The Cardinals are on a bye this week but look for another starter to rejoin the lineup, as right guard Justin Pugh will likely be recovered from his hand injury and start Week 10. Pugh had suited up the past two games but did not feel comfortable playing with the cast. This is still a low-tier line but they are trending in the right direction.

DOWNGRADES

Baltimore down 15 slots.

After signing Hroniss Grasu in late September, Grasu started at left guard for Alex Lewis, who is dealing with a neck injury. Usual starting right tackle James Hurst has been out two games with a back injury, forcing rookie Orlando Brown to take his place. At one point left tackle Ronnie Stanley was forced from the Carolina game with an ankle injury. Stanley returned to the game but Jermaine Eluemunor took his place. None of the starters practiced on Wednesday and this ranking assumes a worst case scenario, all three are out against Pittsburgh. With three subs in the lineup, the Ravens grade out at No. 23 overall, almost in the low-tier. Assuming Hurst and Lewis are out but Stanley goes, they would be a mid-tier unit about 15th. Once one of the more reliable units of the 2018 season, this Ravens' offensive line has been bitten by the injury bug and it's not clear who will get the call going forward.

Chicago down eight slots.

Right guard Kyle Long was seen leaving the locker room on crutches after last week's game against the New York Jets. The team has not announced specifics but Long is expected to miss multiple weeks with a foot injury. Veteran Eric Kush, who had been splitting time with rookie James Daniels at left guard, will swap to the right side. Kush is an experienced veteran and the rare substitute already seeing meaningful game reps, but there is a huge step down in talent from Long, who has a troubling history of missing time with injuries. This Bears' line was on the cusp of the top-tier but without their most talented lineman, they are fighting to stay in the mid-tier.

New England down six slots.

Right guard Shaq Mason exited last week's game at Buffalo in the third quarter with a calf injury and he did not participate in Wednesday's practice. Ted Karras, who saw out the final 27 snaps last week could get the start this week against Green Bay. This start would be the 4th of Karras' career. He is a possible starter at center but not the road grader Mason is at guard. The line overall was shaky in pass protection last week, as both starting tackles (Trent Brown on the left side and LaAdrian Waddle on the right) gave up sacks. Marcus Cannon is still questionable with a concussion and he is not included in the model despite his limited participation in practice. It would not be surprising for Cannon to return to the lineup in some capacity this week, but he's been out a while. As the injuries on the right side mount, the Patriots' line again falls to the low-tier.

OTHER NEWS

CIN - LG Clint Boling injured his back. Boling suffered a back injury during the game against Tampa Bay and Christian Westerman took his place. Boling, the Bengals' most consistent lineman, returned to practice and is expected to be fine after the bye week.

DEN - RT Jared Veldheer will be a game-time decision. Veldheer, who has missed the last five games with an ankle injury, is listed as questionable. If Veldheer starts the Broncos' line would move up to the mid-tier, around 18th overall.

MIA - LG Ted Larsen injured his neck. Larsen forced from the game against Houston with a neck injury, and Wesley Johnson took his place. Larsen is not listed on the Week 9 injury report and he is presumed healthy.

NYG - RT Chad Wheeler injured his ankle. Brian Mihalik took the snaps at right tackle after Wheeler left the game. Mihalik has a Boston College pedigree and started two games at left tackle for the Lions last season while Taylor Decker was hurt. In other news, the team picked up Jamon Brown, a guard cut by the Rams. The Giants are on their bye.

NYJ - C Spencer Long is questionable. Long practiced in a limited fashion but has been fighting multiple injuries (knee/finger). Jonotthan Harrison filled in against Chicago but the model assumes Long will be ready for the game at Miami.

PHI - Injuries to both starting tackles. RT Lane Johnson and LT Jason Peters were forced from the game at London. Peters, who is fighting a torn bicep, managed to return to the game but Johnson could only play seven snaps. Johnson injury is a knee sprain and this might be a multi-week injury. Check in on the grade to this unit after their Week 9 Bye, but most likely a serious downgrade is on the way.

PIT - RT Marcus Gilbert is likely to play. Gilbert missed last week with a knee injury and Matt Feiler replaced him in the lineup. Gilbert fully participated in Wednesday's practice and is expected to play this weekend at Baltimore.

SF - C Weston Richburg is questionable. Richburg missed last week's game at Arizona. Erik Magnuson got the start, the third of his career. Richburg is listed as questionable and this call is close but Richburg should be ready to play on a short week when the 49ers host Oakland on Thursday Night Football.

TEN - Both starting guards are hurt. LG Quinton Spain (shoulder) and RG Josh Kline (undisclosed) have had the bye week to recover from their injuries. Check back Thursday afternoon to see if these players practiced and are included in the model for Week 9. The below rankings assume the guards miss the game.

WAS - LT Trent Williams is likely to play. Williams was forced from last week's game against the Giants with a thumb injury. Ty Nsekhe, one of the better swing tackles in football, took 23 total snaps. Williams did return to the contest and the team expects him to be ready this week against Atlanta.

FULL RANKINGS

Rank
Team
Old
Diff
Score
Overall Grade
Run Grade
Pass Grade
Cohesion
Notes
1
LAR
1
0
32.3
A
A+
A-
5.0
2
PHI
2
0
32.0
A
A+
A+
3.5
RT Lane Johnson injured, check in after bye.
3
PIT
3
0
31.7
A
A+
A-
5.0
4
WAS
5
1
31.1
A-
A
B+
5.0
5
NO
4
-1
30.8
A-
B+
A
5.0
6
GB
6
0
30.5
A-
B+
A
4.0
7
DAL
7
0
30.3
B+
A
B
4.0
8
TEN
10
2
30.1
B+
A
B
4.0
9
ATL
9
0
30.1
B+
A-
B
3.5
10
SF
11
1
30.0
B+
B
A-
4.5
11
SEA
12
1
29.8
B+
B+
B-
5.0
12
DET
14
2
29.3
B
A-
C+
4.0
13
OAK
28
15
29.2
B
A-
C+
4.0
LG Kelechi Osemele is likely to return to the lineup.
14
IND
19
5
29.0
B
B-
B+
4.5
Cohesion upgrade: new lineup starting to gel.
15
CLE
15
0
29.0
B
B+
B-
4.5
16
LAC
16
0
29.0
B
B+
B-
4.0
17
JAX
17
0
28.9
B-
B-
B-
4.0
18
CAR
18
0
28.6
C+
C+
C+
4.0
19
TB
21
2
28.5
C+
C
B-
4.0
20
NYJ
20
0
28.5
C+
C+
C+
4.0
21
CHI
13
-8
28.4
C+
B-
C
4.5
RG Kyle Long injured his foot and is doubtful for Week 9 (Eric Kush).
22
HOU
22
0
28.2
C
C
C
4.5
23
BAL
8
-15
28.1
C
C+
C-
4.0
Potentially missing LT Ronnie Stanley, LG Alex Lewis, and RT James Hurst. #8 line if all play. #15 if only Stanley goes.
24
BUF
25
1
28.0
C-
C+
C-
4.5
25
KC
24
-1
28.0
C-
C-
C+
3.0
C Mitch Morse in concussion protocol (Austin Reiter at C).
26
CIN
26
0
27.9
C-
C
D+
3.5
27
AZ
29
2
27.8
C-
C
D+
4.5
RG Justin Pugh (hand) is likely to play after bye.
28
MIA
27
-1
27.8
C-
C-
C-
4.5
29
NE
23
-6
27.6
D+
D+
D+
4.0
RG Shaq Mason injured his calf (Ted Karras).
30
NYG
30
0
27.5
D+
C-
D
3.5
31
DEN
31
0
27.3
D+
D+
D+
3.5
RT Jared Veldheer is limited in practice and listed as questionable (ankle). #18 line if he plays.
32
MIN
32
0
27.2
D+
C-
D
4.0
LT Riley Reiff is limited in practice and listed as questionable (foot). #22 line if he plays.

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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