On O-line, left brain and right brain

On O-line, left brain and right brain
November 3, 2012, 7:45 pm
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Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher (74), offensive guard Marshal Yanda (73) and center Matt Birk (77) sit on the bench during the second half against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium.

(Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE)

There have been occasional rumblings about shuffling around members of the Ravens offensive line. Maybe we have assumed that changing someone from left to right or vice versa isn’t necessarily that big an adjustment. The Ravens made the move with Michael Oher, putting him at right tackle after he’d  been a left tackle in college and then moving him back to left tackle.

But the change isn’t just like flipping a switch, as Vikings guard Geoff Schwartz told Pro Football Focus.

““It’s very difficult for guys to be able to effectively play on both sides of the line without long hours practicing it. … You don’t often see linemen switching sides of the ball for injury or performance,” he said. “Playing offensive line is a very technical position. Being a great athlete and a physical player can only take you so far if you don’t use proper technique. You must drill over and over again to get the footwork and hand placement down. On top of that, mentally switching things over in your head can be tough at first. You’re used to reacting to movement on one side of the line of scrimmage, now it’s happening on the opposite side.”

So when it comes to designating the backups, the left and right come into play.

“If you look at most lines, the backup LT is the LG, or he’s on the bench,” Schwartz said. “Both teams I’ve played on, our backup LT was the LG.”

Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth said: “I really believe a lot of guys are more efficient at one side or the other. Sure, most tackles are good players and can play both sides, but usually there is a vast difference in how technical or athletic they are one side to the other.”

So maybe it’s not quite the same as an American trying to drive in England, but you get the idea.