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2003 Offensive Lines

While not the most glamorous position in the NFL, offensive lines are crucial to a team's success. How great can Kurt Warner be if the offensive line cannot pass block for him? How effective can Ricky Williams be if the line blocking for him cannot open the hole? Players such as Orlando Pace, Jonathon Ogden and Will Shields are difference makers on the field but are rarely noticed by the fans.

This article will break down how each line ranked last year in Rushing Yards, YPC and Sacks. This article will also take a look at free agent acquisitions, players drafted and any other happenings that could affect the performance of this group in 2003.

How will Alexander perform in 2003?
Can Warner stay healthy enough to regain his MVP form?
Can Tomlinson flirt with 2000 rushing yards?

Those questions become clearer when you breakdown the offensive lines in front of them.

*** Notes

  • For Rushing Yards and YPC, I subtracted the QB carries and QB rushing yards from the total to get a true reflection on an offensive line's proficiency.
  • All Latest News blurbs have been pulled from our News Blogger. To read more of each story, run a search (News Blogger) by typing in player's name.

1. Kansas City Chiefs

2002: 3rd in rushing (134.1), 3rd in YPC (5.0), 8th in sacks (26), 8th in PA per sack (19.3)

C-Casey Wiegmann
G-Brian Waters
G-Will Shields
T-William Roaf
T-John Tait

Good coaching, great talent and solid teamwork make the Chiefs offensive line the best in football. Solid right across the line, there is no weakness for defenses to exploit. This is the second season they will play together as a unit, which could result in even stronger results than a year ago. Will Shields and William Roaf are amongst the best at their position in the NFL, John Tait is a rock at the tackle position and Casey Wiegmann is getting stronger as the starting center. This group simply knows how to dominate the defenses across from them on a play-by-play basis. Whether it is Priest Holmes or rookie draft pick Larry Johnson running the football in 2003, expect to see big holes for the player to exploit. Perhaps the best part of these linemen is their durability as not one of them missed a start in 2002.

The Chiefs drafted two young offensive tackles (Brett Williams, Jordan Black) in the NFL Draft and both will be given the luxury of learning the position behind two of the best. Amongst the backups is Marcus Spears who has started in the past and Donald Willis who has fought health and weight problems throughout his career. If injuries strike this unit, it may prove catastrophic if one of more backups cannot emerge as legitimate starting lineman.

The bottom line is the Chiefs are a talented, well-coached unit who will enjoy another outstanding campaign as the Chiefs attempt to make a Super Bowl push.

Latest News

  • Brett Williams (6-5, 321) joins Kansas City after completing a successful collegiate career at Florida State University where he saw action in 40 games (35 starts) at tackle for the Seminoles. Williams started all 14 games at left tackle in 2002, earning first-team All-America honors from The NFL Draft Report, The Sporting News and the American Football Coaches Association. He also earned first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors. Williams earned second-team All-ACC honors his first two years at Florida State. He signed on July 17th.

  • Jordan Black(6'5, 314) joins Kansas City as a fifth round draft choice after playing his collegiate career at Notre Dame University. He is an intelligent blocker who can play both guard and tackle and will be a valuable backup in Kansas City. He signed a contract July 12th.

Rushing: 1st in NFL
Passing: 1st in NFL

2. Green Bay Packers

2002: 8th (116.3), 8th in YPC (4.4), 9th in sacks (27), 7th in PA per sack (22.5)

C-Mike Flanagan
G-Mike Wahle
G-Marco Rivera
T-Chad Clifton
T-Mark Tauscher

This group has been together for some time now and it shows on the field. They play together as a unit and compliment one another nicely. The Packers added veteran guard Grey Ruegamer from the Patriots and he'll be welcome depth to the squad. Chad Clifton is becoming the force he was expected to when drafted in the 2000 draft. He is a big, strong kid who gets the job done. Marco Rivera made the Pro Bowl last year and has developed into a tremendous talent at guard. He was the first Pro Bowl offensive lineman to play for Green Bay in seven years. The backup linemen (Grey Ruegamer, Frank Winters, Bill Ferrario and Kevin Barry) have experience and some talent that will help this unit if injuries crop up.

Latest News

  • Offensive tackle Earl Dotson formally announced his retirement after 10 seasons in the NFL, all with the Packers. Dotson, 32, was a starter on both of the Super Bowl teams in the '90s and one of the toughest and most respected players in the locker room. Chronic back problems caused him to continually play in pain, yet he refused to give up the game.

  • For the first time since last September, the talented tackle tandem of Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher was intact, ready to resume protecting the Green Bay Packers' franchise quarterback. "To see them back in there certainly is exciting," coach Mike Sherman said. "I know our quarterback's excited."

Rushing: 3rd in NFL
Passing: 4th in NFL

3. Miami Dolphins

2002: 1st in rushing (142.7), 4th in YPC (4.9), 7th in sacks (25), 9th in PA per sack (19.2)

C-Tim Ruddy
G-Jamie Nails
G-Todd Perry
T-Mark Dixon
T-Todd Wade

Last season, the Dolphins offensive line had some injury woes to deal with. However they managed to do a solid job both protecting the quarterback and opening holes for running back Ricky Williams. The Dolphins had the most rushing yardage of any team in the AFC. The starting five are a veteran bunch with over 32 years of experience and if healthy should be one of the stronger units. Mark Dixon was one of the lowest paid starting tackles in the NFL but performed as one of the better tackles. Jamie Nails revitalized his career and had an outstanding season.

The backups are young and talented, led by Seth McKinney and this seasons draft picks, Wade Smith and Taylor Whitley. Down the road, each of these three players will be given every opportunity to start but for now they will learn behind the veteran unit.

Latest News

  • LG Jamie Nails, who is recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon, worked the up-tempo, two-minute drills during the final offseason workouts without any issues. Nails kept himself in decent shape during his layoff. Still, he could be held back some at the start of camp, just to make sure he doesn't try to do too much too soon.

Rushing: 2nd in NFL
Passing: 11th in NFL

4. San Francisco 49ers

2002: 6th in rushing (118.6), 6th in YPC (4.6), 3rd in sacks (22), 2nd in PA per sack (26.9)

C-Jeremy Newberry
G-Ron Stone
G-Eric Heitmann
T-Derrick Deese
T-Scott Gragg

The 49ers drafted tackle Kwame Harris in the first round and he'll compete for playing time immediately. He is a big, athletic kid who uses his size well. The team lost guard Dave Fiore and he will be missed by the offense. Replacing him is Eric Heitmann who was a 7th round pick a year ago and could be a weak link on an otherwise solid line. The team wanted Kwame Harris to claim a starting spot on the line so they can relegate Heitmann to backup status where he probably belongs but it doesn't appear that will be happening now. Harris is better suited to the tackle position.. Ron Stone is a great offensive guard and Jeremy Newberry is a perennial Pro-Bowl player.

Kwame Harris will provide depth unless he wins a starting job out of the gate. That isn't very likely though. After him, the talent pool is pretty empty.

Latest News

  • First-round draft pick Kwame Harris will remain at left tackle, coach Dennis Erickson said. Originally, the team had thought about having Harris compete for the starting job at left guard as a rookie. Now, the plan is for Harris to play in a reserve role behind starter Derrick Deese.

Rushing: 6th in NFL
Passing: 5th in NFL

5. Philadelphia Eagles

2002: 11th in rushing (108.8), 14th in YPC (4.2), 16th in sacks (36), 15th in PA per sack (16.2)

C-Hank Fraley
G-John Welbourn
G-Jermane Mayberry
T-Tra Thomas
T-Jon Runyan

The Eagles have a solid offensive line but have never developed into a great unit but will be incredible if they do. Individually these guys have talent (three made the Pro-Bowl in 2002) but something is missing when they step onto the field. This is a veteran unit that will continue to play solid football but they could be excellent if they find the missing ingredient. Tra Thomas is a giant of a man at left tackle and is clearly the best lineman the team has. He has surprising agility for a man who weighs 350 lbs. However Thomas didn't have the best of seasons last year and will need to come back determined in 2003. This is a good group but they have a chance to develop into much more. Jermane Mayberry has settled in to the guard position to become the most consistent lineman on the team.

Backups on the line include former 2nd round draft choice Bobby Williams and last year's 4th round pick Scott Peters. Both have talent but need to elevate their play if injuries occur up front.

Latest News

  • OLT Tra Thomas has been to the Pro-Bowl, the NFC Championship game, and has become a leader on the offensive line. But he isn't satisfied. Thomas was manhandled by Simeon Rice in the championship game last season, and is looking for redemption, and a trip to the Super Bowl this season.

Rushing: 12th in NFL
Passing: 7th in NFL

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

2002: 7th in rushing (117.9), 14th in YPC (4.2), 13th in sacks (34), 12th in PA per sack (17.2)

C-Jeff Hartings
G-Kendall Simmons
G-Alan Faneca
T-Marvel Smith
T-Todd Fordham

The Steelers have a solid core led by Jeff Hartings but this unit will really miss the skills of Wayne Gandy (signed by Saints). Todd Fordham was brought in to replace Gandy and the team needs him to do well. He will be in a fierce competition with Oliver Ross at the right tackle position The four returning veterans are young, talented, still improving and should continue to grow as players. The interior three are as good as they come. Hartings, Simmons and Faneca are very talented and will control the inside. Marvel Smith will switch from right tackle to left tackle to fill the hole created with the departure of Gandy. The tackle positions are a big question mark and only time will tell if Smith and Fordham can get the job done. Look for another strong performance from this line although perhaps not as dominating as in seasons past.

The backup situation in Pittsburgh is questionable at this time. There is some talent in this group such as 4th round pick in 2001 Nkwenti Mathias and the 5th round pick in the same year, Okobi Chukky but the players are still unproven at this point.

Latest News

  • Offensive tackle Marvel Smith may just be moving from one end of the Steelers line to the other, but going from right tackle to left tackle is much more than that. Smith made the move during the off-season after Wayne Gandy signed with the New Orleans Saints as an unrestricted free agent. He worked there through the coaching sessions and off-season practices, but still feels like there is work to be done.

Rushing: 13th in NFL
Passing: 6th in NFL

7. Washington Redskins

2002: 9th in rushing (111.4), 8th in YPC (4.4), 19th in sacks (38), 18th in PA per sack (15.7)

C-Larry Moore
G-Dave Fiore
G-Randy Thomas
T-Chris Samuels
T-Jon Jansen

The Redskins have improved the talent on the line significantly this off-season. They added Derrick Dockery who is a huge rookie guard from Texas as well as free-agent guards Dave Fiore and Randy Thomas, both of whom will certainly start. Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen are two of the better tackles on one team in the NFL. They are young and athletic and should backbone this core for years to come. If these guys can learn to play with one another right away, watch out for the Redskins on offense. This has the making of a tremendous line, perhaps even the tops in the league by the end of the season.

Depth comes in the form of veteran Tre Johnson and rookie Derrick Dockery, a 3rd round pick from this season. Dockery is a 'Man amongst Boys' at 6'6 and 347 pounds but may be a little too big for his own good, as his endurance and quickness have been questioned while at the University of Texas. However he hits hard, sustains his blocks and is a hard guy to get around. He will provide valuable depth this year and will start in a season or two.

Latest News

  • "I want to lead this offensive line to be the best it can be. Whatever it takes, we're going to do it--that's my attitude. You're going to see a guy out there who is very dedicated to his job and his team."
    -Randy Thomas

  • Dave Fiore's strongest position is at the left guard. He said at the press conference that announced his signing with the Redskins that it was a promise made by the coaching staff that ultimately led him to sign with the team. That promise was that he would be able to play one position and not be forced to continue the revolving position game that he faced in San Francisco. That position would be the left guard. Regarding the chance to play one position, Fiore was quoted as saying "That was one of the things that drove me here. I thought I had the chance to play one position and stay with it." Another factor also was being able to line up beside one of the NFL's premier offensive tackles, Chris Samuels. Fiore was also quoted as saying "The Redskins welcomed me and were eager to have me here. I like the aggressiveness here, I like the willingness to win."

Rushing: 9th in NFL
Passing: 12th in NFL

8. St. Louis Rams

2002: 28th in rushing (86.1), 12th in YPC (4.3), 28th in sacks (46), 21st in PA per sack (14.8)

C-Dave Wohlabaugh
G-Andy McCollum
G-Adam Timmerman
T-Orlando Pace
T-Kyle Turley

The Rams have one of the best bookends in the game with Orland Pace and Kyle Turley striking fear in defensive ends all over the country. Pace is the most dominating tackle in the NFL today and simply destroys the person across from him. However Pace is still battling for a new contract instead of practicing on the field and that is a big concern. The Rams did well to sign Turley and Wohlabaugh to contracts this off-season. They will add toughness to the mix and will make everyone better around them. The Rams offensive line is better than they played last year and I expect serious improvement in 2003. At this time Pace hasn't signed. If he and the team cannot agree on a long-term contract, he is expected to accept the one-year offer on the table.

The top backup is John St. Clair who disappointed as a first time starter in 2002 but provides good depth for the team. His experience as a starter will be invaluable to him this year and he'll likely be much stronger if the opportunity presents itself this season. Other backups include last season's 4th round draft pick Travis Scott and free agent acquisition David Loverne, formerly of the Redskins.

Latest News

  • Pace, the team's Pro Bowl left tackle, is without a contract. His agent and the Rams are so far apart in terms of contract proposals, it's looking more and more like training camp will come and go without him. The next step for Pace would be to sign his one-year tender. In terms of a multiple-year contract, the Rams have offered Pace something in the neighborhood of $42 million over seven years. That's roughly what the team is paying Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. Pace's agent, Carl Poston, asked for twice that amount.

  • No matter how long disgruntled LT Orlando Pace holds out, the team will keep Kyle Turley at right tackle. Grant Williams, who has improved his upper-body strength, will start at left tackle during Pace's absence.

Rushing: 7th in NFL
Passing: 17th in NFL

9. New York Giants

2002: 8th in rushing (117.6), 12th in YPC (4.3), 5th in sacks (24), 5th in PA per sack (23.9)

C-Chris Bober
G-Rich Seubert
G-Tam Hopkins
T-Luke Petitgout
T-Barrett Brooks

After last season there is little doubt that offensive line couch Jim McNally is the best in the business. He gets more out of average football players than perhaps any positional coach in the NFL. On paper this offensive line should be atrocious but they played well above their head and that is thanks to one man, their coach. The anchors of this line are Luke Petitgout, a 4th year veteran from Notre Dame and Chris Bober who excelled as a young center in 2002. Question marks abound at the other positions but McNally went through the same situation last year and developed this group into one of the strongest groups in football.

Rookie David Diehl will be competing for a starting position but may serve as a backup instead this season. If he doesn't start this year, he has an excellent shot to do so in 2004. Jeff Hatch, a 3rd round pick in 2002 has a good shot as well to crack the starting lineup and he should be a decent, although inexperienced backup. Not much else to say about this collection of average blockers. Give McNally a raise… a BIG RAISE!

Latest News

  • At the moment, Fassel considers Ian Allen and Tam Hopkins as the starters at right tackle and right guard, respectively. Hopkins is hoping to replace Jason Whittle, who signed as a free agent in Tampa Bay (and recently suffered a broken right leg that required the insertion of a pin). "But there are others I like," he said, naming Hatch, Barrett Brooks and rookie (fifth round pick) David Diehl as those who he hopes will compete for the jobs.

Rushing: 11th in NFL
Passing: 10th in NFL

10. Oakland Raiders

2002: 14th in rushing (100.4), 8th in YPC (4.4), 15th in sacks (36), 11th in PA per sack (18.2)

C-Barret Robbins
G-Mo Collins
G-Frank Middleton
T-Barry Sims
T-Lincoln Kennedy

This is the same group that started the season in 2002 and they are a good unit surrounded by proven players at the skilled positions. Tackles Lincoln Kennedy and Barry Sims are a gifted tandem who can dominate their opponents at times during a game. The question mark going into the season is the mental health of Barret Robbins. If he has recovered from his bipolar condition and can effectively return to the team, it will be a big plus to the Raiders championship dreams. Other than the Robbins question marks, the rest of the starting five appears to be written in stone with the signing of Mo Collins. 2nd year player Matt Stinchcomb will have to have an excellent pre-season to move ahead of Collins or Middleton as the starting guard.

The Raiders have excellent depth with Matt Stinchcomb, Brad Badger and Langster Walker all having NFL experience. Matt Stinchcomb especially could find playing time with a good camp. He was the 1st round pick last season and should be much more prepared in 2003.

Latest News

  • All-Pro center Barret Robbins was among four players placed on the Oakland Raiders' physically-unable-to-perform list after failing physicals on the eve of training camp Thursday.

  • Dustin Rykert was delighted to join the Silver and Black family after being selected in the 6th Round of the 2003 NFL Draft. After the rookie mini-camp in May it was evident that this lineman was a versatile player who has a lot of potential to strengthen the Raiders already established offense. Head Coach Bill Callahan noted, "He's obviously a size guy that can be knocked down inside and play guard; he can play the tackle position, so it'll take some time for his development [and for him] to get accustomed to the pro game, but he's a guy that as you project in the late rounds and is sitting there that falls to you, and we couldn't pass him up."

Rushing: 16th in NFL
Passing: 9th in NFL

11. Denver Broncos

2002: 2nd in rushing (134.4), 1st in YPC (5.2), 27th in sacks (46), 25th in PA per sack (13.0)

C-Tom Nalen
G-Ben Hamilton
G-Dan Neil
T-Ephraim Salaam
T-Matt Lepsis

The Broncos lost two linemen but may end up better for it. The core of this group is solid with Tom Nalen, Dan Neil and Matt Lepsis who have played well together since 2001 but the team wants a better season out of Lepsis who struggled last year. Ben Hamilton and Ephraim Salaam are decent players but could be replaced in training camp as 1st-round pick George Foster and free-agent pickup Heath Irwin will give them a battle for playing time. Once a great line, the Broncos have slipped some over the last two years although most of the disappointment from last season can be attributed to the team losing tremendous center Tom Nalen for the season in week seven with a knee injury. With him out of the lineup and Dan Neil playing hurt most of the season, the level of play for this group was down. Expect a much stronger performance in 2003.

At this time, the key backups appear to be rookie George Foster, Heath Irvin and Carlisle Cooper. There is some talent amongst these players and one or more may crack the starting lineup if Lepsis and Salaam cannot find more consistency in 2003.

Latest News

  • The Denver Broncos Thursday singed first-round draft pick tackle George Foster, Head Coach Mike Shanahan announced. Foster is the last of the Broncos' 10 selections in last April's NFL Draft to sign with the team. Foster, 6-5, 338 pounds, was the team's first-round pick (20th overall), after playing in 43 career games at Georgia and making 10 starts.

  • Center Tom Nalen saw his season end in Week seven last year after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament against the Chiefs. Nalen's absence was a painful one. In games Nalen started last year, the Broncos were 5-2. Without the perennial Pro Bowl center, they were 4-5. "He's a proven Pro Bowl player who's got plenty of gas left in his tank. I think there's a lot of teams that would love to have him as a luxury on their team," Beuerlein said. "It gives us our best lineman healthy again, getting Ben to move over to guard, but when you put Tommy back in there at the middle, it makes our offensive line a whole lot better.

Rushing: 4th in NFL
Passing: 22nd in NFL

12. Minnesota Vikings

2002: 5th in rushing (118.6), 1st in YPC (5.2), 29th in sacks (49), 27th in PA per sack (12.4)

C-Matt Birk
G-David Dixon
G-Chris Liwienski
T-Bryant McKinnie
T-Mike Rosenthal

The Vikings have the biggest offensive line in the NFL with a combined weight of 1646 pounds. Having Bryant McKinnie available right from training camp will be a major plus for the Vikings. The contract dispute last year did little to help his progress as a rookie. He is talented and ready to become an elite tackle. Mike Rosenthal was brought in to solidify the right side of the line. At center the Vikings are set with Matt Birk. He is an outstanding center who is amongst the best in the NFL. The arrival of Rosenthal will allow Liwienski to return to his natural position at guard and David Dixon should have another decent season in him. Look for significant improvement in pass protection in 2003 and a good showing with run blocking again this season.

Key backups include Everett Lindsay and Adam Haayer but nobody really stands out as a great prospect if the Vikings lose a starter to injury.

Latest News

  • Winning in the trenches depends on continuity and cohesion. Last year, the Vikings led the NFL in rushing despite having an offensive line that was shuffled with players injured, holding out and playing out of position. That isn't the case anymore and, if anything, this year's offensive line should only be better at opening holes for the running game and protecting Daunte Culpepper in the passing game. If the mantra about games being won in the trenches is true, the Vikings have set themselves up for success by building the foundation blocks where it counts.

Rushing: 5th in NFL
Passing: 25th in NFL

13. Buffalo Bills

2002: 19th in rushing (95.8), 14th in YPC (4.2), 30th in sacks (54), 28th in PA per sack (12.3)

C-Trey Teague
G-Ruben Brown
G-Marques Sullivan
T-Jonas Jennings
T-Mike Williams

Led by Mike Williams at tackle, the Bills offensive line was very improved last season. Williams has the talent to be the best lineman in the NFL and he is tsill learning his craft. He is a ferocious run blocker and is getting better at protecting the quarterback. Add to that the fact he weights 370 pounds and has agility and he could be devastating down the road. Reuben Brown is simply one of the best players at his position. He is big, imposing and great at opening holes. The rest of the line features Trey Teague, Jonas Jennings and Marques Sullivan and they are each young, solid players getting better all the time. The strength of this line is run blocking while the weakness is protecting Drew Bledsoe. However I expect the pass protection to be improved this season.

Marcus Price did a good job when called on last year. He started three games on the season and the unit looked solid while he played. Another player the team is high on is Mike Pucillo who will get a chance to start this season and will provide good depth if he doesn't win the job.

Latest News

  • After starting all 16 games at a new position, you would think Marques Sullivan's job would be secured. Think again. The team is high on second-year pro Mike Pucillo, who didn't play last year but had a strong off season. While Sullivan has a lot of upside, he was the Bills' most penalized lineman. If he falters, Pucillo might be ready to take over.

  • The Bills think they have the offensive line to play a more physical style this year. Molding the five returning starters and four or five backups into a cohesive unit might be the most important task of the offense over the next six weeks. "I'm very optimistic the offensive line is going to prove to be one of the strengths of our team," said OC Kevin Gilbride.

Rushing: 17th in NFL
Passing: 26th in NFL

14. Arizona Cardinals

2002: 20th in rushing (95.0), 14th in YPC (4.2), 23rd in sacks (41), 22nd in PA per sack (14.4)

C-Frank Garcia
G-Pete Kendall
G-Leonard Davis
T-LJ Shelton
T-Anthony Clement

When healthy, this group is clearly the best group on the team. However injury problems have plagued these guys and they have never developed the continuity that is so important when it comes to blocking at the professional level. This group is huge with an average weight of 325 pounds. L.J. Shelton and Anthony Clement have the potential to be dynamite bookends but have never reached their full potential. Both are huge players with excellent skills and the NFL better watch out if they ever put it all together. Leonard Davis is a huge man at 370 pounds and could easily be a star player in the league if he continues to grow as a player. Pete Kendall hasn't been able to stay healthy and Frank Garcia was brought in to stabilize the middle of the offensive line. I think this unit will be very solid in 2003 but will anybody notice the improvement with the poor talent at the skill positions in Arizona.

The reserves are stronger this season than in years past. Raleigh Roundtree, Chris Dishman, Cameron Spikes and Jason Starkey all bring experience to the table and will be able to fill in if injuries strike this group again.

Latest News

  • OL Pete Kendall, the starting left guard the past two seasons, will work primarily at center early in training camp, coach Dave McGinnis said. Kendall's intelligence and athletic ability are suited to playing center, McGinnis said, and the move might strengthen the team's starting unit. The team is deep at guard, with Chris Dishman, Cameron Spikes and Raleigh Roundtree competing for the job on the left side.

Rushing: 17th in NFL
Passing: 21st in NFL

15. Tennessee Titans

2002: 21st in rushing (94.7), 28th in YPC (3.6), 2nd in sacks (21), 4th in PA per sack (24.8)

C-Tom Ackerman
G-Zack Piller
G-Benji Olsen
T-Brad Hopkins
T-Fred Miller

Just an average collection of talent here. The best lineman on the team continues to be Hopkins who is very experienced and gets the job done. Miller is a talented player but is often rattled and can get off of his game. This unit won't hurt the Titans but won't dominate on a weekly basis as well. There biggest strength appears to be keeping the defensive lineman off of Steve McNair and that is important to the success of the team. One of the keys this season was to get guard Zack Piller under contract and the Titans were able to get that done. He isn't a top guard but is a solid performer and is a nice fit on this offensive line.

Backup lineman Jason Matthews has the talent to start on this line and is a valuable backup. The rest of the backups are mediocre talents at best and the Titans would be best served to not have to use them much this season. Helping the reserve situation would be the signing of free agent Gennaro DiNapoli but at the time of this article, he remains unsigned. However there seems to be progress in regards to him and perhaps he'll join the team soon. He was a solid contributor for the Titans last year.

Latest News

  • A major training camp battle could come at center. If DiNapoli returns, expect a fight for the starting position with Ackerman. DiNapoli started every game at center last year helping to pave the way for 1,952 team rushing yards, including the sixth 1,100-yard season for George.

Rushing: 25th in NFL
Passing: 3rd in NFL

16. Cincinnati Bengals

2002: 13th in rushing (102.9), 14th in YPC (4.2), 18th in sacks (37), 13th in PA per sack (17.0)

C-Mike Goff
G-Eric Steinbach<r>
G-Matt O'Dwyer
T-Levi Jones
T-Willie Anderson

These five guys could be dominating when it comes to run blocking. Mike Goff and Matt O'Dwyer are mean-spirited players who fight, scratch, and do whatever it takes to get the job done. Anderson is a dominating presence outside for the team and Jones is ready to contribute in a big way. If rookie guard Eric Steinbach can step in and play well, the sky is the limit for this squad. The Bengals stole Steinbach with a second round pick. He has a ton of talent and could step in and dominate like Steve Hutchinson did with the Seahawks back in 2001 as a rookie.

The backups aren't as impressive and the starting five will have to stay healthy for the Bengals to have success. Rich Braham and Scott Rehberg are probably the top reserves.

Latest News

  • The preseason also will be an important time for the interior of the offensive line, which has been revamped. Former right guard Mike Goff has moved to center, and former left guard Matt O'Dwyer goes to right guard, where he played with the Jets. The new left guard is second-round draft pick Eric Steinbach. The Bengals are looking for an immediate return from him.

Rushing: 18th in NFL
Passing: 14th in NFL

17. Seattle Seahawks

2002: 23rd in rushing (94.4), 24th in YPC (4.0), 12th in sacks (33), 10th in PA per sack (18.8)

C-Robbie Tobeck
G-Steve Hutchinson
G-Chris Gray
T-Walter Jones
T-Chris Terry

Last year the Seahawks had a major contract hassle with Walter Jones and it affected his season. He is very important to the success of the Seahawks and they need him on the field. However at this time, Jones is still holding out and this could be a serious problem for the Seahawks. He isn't worth the amount of money he is seeking but the Hawks success is going to be dependent on a great left tackle. Also, Steve Hutchinson must be healthy and ready to play. Hutchinson is already one of the best guards in the NFL. Robbie Tobeck is not an athletic center but he is tenacious and fights hard on every play. Chris Gray and Chris Terry aren't world-beaters but they won't hurt the team.

The Seahawks stole tackle Wayne Hunter from the University of Hawaii in the 3rd round. Many perceived him to be a first round pick. He will add invaluable depth and could compete for playing time immediately if Jones once again holds out. The Hawks are deep at offensive line with Jerry Wunsch, Pork Chop Womack and tenacious Michael Thompson (signed from Atlanta) all joining Hunter in the reserve positions. The Hawks can afford injuries if they do creep up.

Latest News

  • Walter Jones remains unsigned, which was the case going into last summer's camp. Jones, tagged as the Seahawks' franchise player, missed all of camp in 2002 as well as the first two regular-season games before signing a one-year tender at $4.92 million. Jones can sign the tender, which is up to $5.73 million this season, and report to camp, which is what the Seahawks would like to have happen sooner than later. Mike Reinfeldt, the Seahawks' top contract negotiator and senior vice president, would like Jones to sign the tender and then work out the long-term deal Jones and his agent, Roosevelt Barnes, desire.

Rushing: 19th in NFL
Passing: 13th in NFL

18. San Diego Chargers

2002: 4th in rushing (125.1), 5th in YPC (4.7), 6th in sacks (24), 6th in PA per sack (23.4)

C-Jason Ball
G-Toniu Fonoti
G-Kelvin Garmon
T-Damion McIntosh
T-Vaughn Parker

Led by rookie guard Toniu Fonoti, the Chargers offensive line did better than anybody expected. He became an immediate impact player for the team with his attacking style on the field and the entire line seemed to rally around him. Another rookie last year Jason Ball also started and did a solid job. Both players should be even better in 2003. Vaughn Parker and Damion McIntosh are solid veterans at the tackle positions. Neither player is amongst the best at their position but neither player will hurt the Chargers chances in 2003. Pass protection is a liability though despite the low sacks. The team kept tight ends and fullbacks in to block and QB Drew Brees was solid at throwing away the football to avoid the sack.

The key backup this season could be rookie Courtney Van Buren who weighs in at an impressive 350 pounds. He does have some refining to do though and may not be able to play right away. If not, Cory Raymer, Soloman Page and Bob Hallen provide decent depth.

Latest News

  • Chargers have signed third-round draft pick Courtney Van Buren from Arkansas-Pine Bluff to a three-year deal, the team announced on Thursday. The Chargers selected Van Buren, 6-5, 350, with the 80th overall choice in the 2003 NFL Draft.

Rushing: 8th in NFL
Passing: 20th in NFL

19. New Orleans Saints

2002: 22nd in rushing (94.6), 14th in YPC (4.2), 19th in sacks (38), 19th in PA per sack (15.2)

C-Jerry Fontenot
G-Kendyl Jacox
G-LeCharles Bentley
T-Victor Riley
T-Wayne Gandy

The Saints trading away fan-favorite tackle Kyle Turley and picked up pro-bowl tackle Wayne Gandy. That is a solid move for an offensive line desperately seeking an anchor, as the Saints line has been adrift for years. For the second consecutive season there isn't the type of continuity that helps a line grow as a unit and it's doubtful that they will improve much from last season's average results. The other four players are decent but won't blow you away with their talent and athletic ability although coach Jim Haslett believes LeCharles Bentley can develop into a great football player. Jon Stinchcomb has the talent to become a good NFL player but probably isn't ready to be a full time player in the NFL. However it appears as though he may get his chance to make me eat my words as he has a shot to start out of the gate. There are too many question marks to rank the Saints higher than this.

Two rookie lineman (Stinchcomb and Montrae Holland) were drafted and will be counted on to improve the talent in this group. Victor Riley and Jerry Fontenot are both veterans who may start week one and may provide valuable depth at the backup position.

Latest News

  • The New Orleans Saints have signed T Jon Stinchcomb to a four-year contract, it was announced today by Executive Vice President/General Manager of Football Operations Mickey Loomis. Stinchcomb, 6-foot-5, 302 pounds, was considered one of the best offensive linemen in April's NFL Draft.

  • The New Orleans Saints have signed fourth-round pick G Montrae Holland to a three-year contract, it was announced today by Executive Vice President/General Manager of Football Operations Mickey Loomis.

  • New Orleans has five veteran starters in place, appears to possess adequate depth, and added two excellent prospects in this year's draft. By signing former St. Louis and Pittsburgh starter Wayne Gandy to replace Kyle Turley at the LT spot, and keeping C Jerry Fontenot for at least one more campaign, the team avoided what otherwise might have been a wholesale reshuffling.

  • * ranking updated to reflect Jerry Fontenot into the starting lineup

Rushing: 29th in NFL
Passing: 19th in NFL

20. Baltimore Ravens

2002: 12th in rushing (104.9), 8th in YPC (4.4), 22nd in sacks (41), 26th in PA per sack (12.7)

C-Mike Flynn
G-Bennie Anderson
G-Edwin Mulitalo
T-Jonathon Ogden
T-Orlando Brown

The Ravens offensive line was in a state of flux last year but managed to play better than expected. They still are blessed with Jonathon Ogden who is the best offensive lineman in the AFC. Likely it is his presence that helped this mediocre group play better than many thought they could. The team has been very weak at right tackle since Orlando Brown left in 1998. The Ravens signed him this year to be the right tackle even though he has been out of football for three seasons with an eye injury. Only time will tell if Brown still has game or not. Edwin Mulitalo and Bennie Anderson are solid when it comes to run blocking thanks to their attacking style. This group is definitely stronger at run blocking than pass blocking and that doesn't bode well for the Ravens at quarterback.

Reserve tackle Ethan Brooks will have a chance to start if the Orlando Brown experiment fails. He did a decent job last season as the starting right tackle. Other backups include the 5th round pick this year Anthony Pashos and 3rd round pick back in 2001 Casey Rabach.

Latest News

  • This could be the year that Casey Rabach, the former third-round pick, emerges as a starter. Rabach saw action at left and right guard, as well as center, last year, earning starts in five of the 12 games he played. Rabach's versatility gives the team options. He will compete for time at both center and right guard. A possible scenario is Rabach starting at center and Flynn moving to right guard, where he played during the 2000 Super Bowl run.

Rushing: 14th in NFL
Passing: 23rd in NFL

21. Indianapolis Colts

2002: 26th in rushing (88.3), 28th in YPC (3.6), 4th in sacks (23), 3rd in PA per sack (26.7)

C-Jeff Saturday
G-Rick DeMulling
G-Ryan Diem
T-Tarik Glenn
T-Adam Meadows

Continuity is crucial to a line's success and this is the same five that began the season a year ago. Saturday is a brilliant pass blocker who simply keeps defenders from reaching his quarterback. On the outside, Glenn is also a strong pass blocker who effectively guards Peyton Manning's backside. Meadows is a solid all-around player but struggled some during the 2002 campaign and the team will push him with Diem, who is a huge guard at 6'7, 331 pounds. DeMulling is a solid player at the other guard position. The best thing about the Colts offensive line is that they are all under 30 years of age. They'll be solid for quite a while.

The reserve linemen appear to be shaky at best. The key backups appear to be Hans Olsen and 4th round pick Steve Sciullo but the Colts better hope they don't suffer injury problems up front.

Latest News

  • The Colts drafted Steve Sciullo, who played offensive tackle at Marshall University, in the fourth round of the NFL Draft this past April. Team officials informed him upon his selection they planned to play him at offensive guard.

Rushing: 23rd in NFL
Passing: 2nd in NFL

22. Jacksonville Jaguars

2002: 10th in rushing (108.9), 7th in YPC (4.5), 24th in sacks (42), 29th in PA per sack (12.0)

C-Brad Meester
G-Chris Naeole
G-Vince Manuwai-<r>
T-Mike Pearson
T-Maurice Williams

This has the makings of a very strong offensive line by the 2004 season. The Jaguars lost three of their offensive lineman from last season via free agency which means the team will be forced to use youth this season. The good news though is that these young kids are very talented. The team has used early draft picks on four of these players over the last four seasons. The big battle this pre-season will be between rookie Vince Manuwai and free-agent signing Jamar Nesbit who both could win the starting guard position. Mike Pearson and Maurice Williams have the talent to become elite tackles and only need experience to reach the next level. Both players are big, strong and quick. Chris Naeole solidified the guard position last year by playing all 16 games. Brad Meester will be tried at center but he will likely be the weak link of the unit unless he plays better than anticipated. The only question mark with this talented group is how well they'll play as a unit in 2003. This offensive line will be solid this year and great in '04.

The key backup for the Jaguars offensive line will be either Jamar Nesbit or Vince Manuwai who has all the talent to be an impact guard if he learns the professional game quick enough. The other backups are unlikely to play very well at the NFL level and the Jaguars need to pray that injuries do not occur within this unit.

Latest News

  • The club could be set if LT Mike Pearson continues to develop. He had his moments as a rookie but is an unproven run blocker and struggles against a fast pass rush. Despite those concerns, the team did not bring in a replacement. There are no worries about RT Maurice Williams, who is technically sound and has quick feet. He missed 11 games (broken leg) last season but says he is completely recovered. The backup situation isn't encouraging.

Rushing: 15th in NFL
Passing: 24th in NFL

23. Cleveland Browns

2002: 18th in rushing (95.6), 22nd in YPC (4.1), 14th in sacks (35), 14th in PA per sack (16.8)

C-Jeff Faine
G-Melvin Fowler
G-Shaun O'Hara
T-Ross Verba
T-Ryan Tucker

The Browns offensive line has come a long way over the last two seasons and first-round pick Jeff Faine will help strengthen this unit even more. He should provide stability, toughness and ability to the middle of the line. His selection means Melvin Fowler will slot into one of the guard spots where he is more suited with either Shaun O'Hara or Paul Zukauskas manning the other spot. I expect Faine to come out and immediately make an impact on the field like Steve Hutchinson did with the Hawks two years ago. Ross Verba and Ryan Tuckers are solid veterans at the tackle positions and bring experience to the table. Neither player is great but fit nicely into the Browns scheme. This unit isn't great but is improving each year.

Top reserves will be whoever loses the battle between O'Hara and Zukauskas and Barry Stokes who was the starter in 2002. These players will be solid role-players and provide excellent depth for the Browns. An interesting player to watch is Qasim Mitchell who weighs in at an impressive 365 pounds.

Latest News

  • Mitchell has been much hyped this off-season as a right guard who could make the running game that much better. Never mind that the Browns' starter is Shaun O'Hara, and he's bigger and stronger this season, Mitchell is the guy everyone wants to see. He has gained 35 pounds of muscle with a serious weight-lifting program and is making noise at training camp.

Rushing: 20th in NFL
Passing: 15th in NFL

24. New York Jets

2002: 17th in rushing (96.6), 14th in YPC (4.2), 11th in sacks (32), 16th in PA per sack (16.2)

C-Kevin Mawae
G-Dave Szott
G-Tom Nutten
T-Jason Fabini
T-Kareem McKenzie

The Jets lost Randy Thomas but managed to sign Tom Nutten who is a fine pass blocker. Dave Szott was injured last year and needs to come back strong. Jason Fabini is a solid left tackle and center is in good shape with veteran Kevin Mawae snapping the ball. At the other tackle spot, Kareem McKenzie is O.K. but will need to continue improving on a weekly basis. Overall this is a decent offensive line but needs some work to become a good unit.

The reserves include Brent Smith, Jonathon Goodwin and 7th round pick Dave Yovanovits. Not a lot of talent amongst these players.

Latest News

  • The New York Jets announced today they have been awarded C Matt O'Neal off waivers and they have signed DE Salem Simon. The announcement was made by Jets' General Manager Terry Bradway.

Rushing: 21st in NFL
Passing: 16th in NFL

25. New England Patriots

2002: 27th in rushing (87.5), 24th in YPC (4.0), 10th in sacks (31), 8th in PA per sack (20.5)

C-Damien Woody
G-Matt Compton
G-Joe Andruzzi
T-Matt Light
T-Kenyatta Jones

This offensive line is young and talented but seemed to take a step back last year. Another year together should certainly strengthen their play but it is possible they are already at the peak of their ability and there is little upside. Look for more of the same out of this offensive line in 2003. Kenyatta Jones disappointed the Patriots last season with his efforts and they'll give him competition for the job in 2003 with Adrian Klemm. The run-blocking last season was not at the level it needed to be and the team will need to work on that this year. The key player in this group is Damien Woody who is young and improving. This group could easily be much better than this ranking but only time will tell if they can come together and play better as a unit.

The key backup will be Adrian Klemm unless he can beat out Kenyatta Jones for a spot. After that, most of the reserves are a big question mark at this time. Rookie 5th round pick Dan Koppen could develop into a decent center/guard but he'll need a couple of years to make improvements.

Latest News

  • "After minicamp, we had another three weeks of training. We had 95- to 100-percent attendance during the workout program. During that time we worked really hard on all the little things; all the agility drills, really working on our speed and our strength. For the two weeks that we go home, we don't really hit it as hard as we did before, but we try to maintain what we'd done in the past. So when we come back for camp we are refreshed and we get ready to run that conditioning test." - Matt Light

Rushing: 24th in NFL
Passing: 8th in NFL

26. Chicago Bears

2002: 31st in rushing (74.8), 31st in YPC (3.5), 25th in sacks (44), 24th in PA per sack (13.3)

C-Olin Kreutz
G-Rex Tucker
G-Chris Villarrial
T-Mike Gandy
T-Marc Columbo

One look at the Bears offensive line last year and it is clear why the team plummeted back down to earth in 2002. The line play was atrocious last season providing little pass blocking and opening no holes. Injuries were the main cause of the problems for this group last year and I'm surprised they didn't add more depth via the draft. The best thing about these five players is their age. All of them are under 30 years of age and should continue to improve as a unit. Marc Columbo has the talent to become a start tackle in the league but needs another season or two of seasoning before that will happen. He is also fighting injury still and may not be ready to start the season. Mike Gandy is a 3rd year player who played a lot of football last year. He will be expected to start and improve this season with the departure of James Williams. Rex Tucker missed most of last season with a broken ankle. Olin Kreutz is a solid center who leads by example in the middle. The Bears will be much better on the line this season if they stay healthy. It is a big question mark though how healthy this group can stay.

The key backups are Bernard Robertson who started in some games last year and may do so again, Terrence Metcalf, a young guard from Mississippi and Aaron Gibson who will break the scale if he steps on it.

Latest News

  • No Bears player is more eager to participate in the first training camp practice Friday morning than OG Rex Tucker. The veteran left guard is rebounding from a broken ankle and fractured fibula in his left leg that forced him to miss the final 11 games last season. "It feels like I haven't played forever," Tucker said. "I feel good. I'm real excited to get started and I'm ready to go."

  • OL Marc Colombo hasn't recovered from a second operation on his left knee and won't practice with the Chicago Bears when they open training camp Friday. Last year's first-round draft pick, expected to be the starter at right tackle this season, probably won't be ready for the preseason opener Aug. 9.

Rushing: 30th in NFL
Passing: 27th in NFL

27. Carolina Panthers

2002: 24th in rushing (91.8), 28th in YPC (3.6), 25th in sacks (44), 30th in PA per sack (11.5)

C-Jeff Mitchell
G-Doug Brzezinski
G-Kevin Donnalley
T-Todd Steussie
T-Jordan Gross <r>

There is a lot of experience on this line but it didn't add up to success in 2002. There will likely be two new starters this season, one of them being first round pick, Jordan Gross who is big, athletic and should make a difference if he can pick up his assignments quickly. Todd Steussie is a solid all-around tackle but needs to work on his on-field discipline; Donnalley is getting older but still has a mean streak in him. 2nd round pick this year Bruce Nelson will eventually replace him but not in 2003. Jeff Mitchell is a rock in the center for the team but didn't have his best season last year. If this group can mesh together they could be solid but there are a lot of ifs with this group.

Because of the battles going on with the line spots, there is some quality depth in Carolina. Melvin Tuten will likely back up Gross but may start in his place if Gross isn't ready to go. He brings experience to the table. Jeno James and Bruce Nelson will also provide good depth.

Latest News

  • At some point, second-round draft pick Bruce Nelson is likely to replace Kevin Donnalley. But don't count on it happening just yet. Donnalley, who is 35 and heading into the final year of his contract, is a smart and dependable player. He also is in excellent shape. As long as Donnalley is healthy, it makes sense to start him next to rookie right tackle Jordan Gross and bring Nelson along slowly.

  • The Panthers signed Doug Brzezinski, who has been a starter and backup with Philadelphia. The job, though, won't be handed to Brzezinski. Look for him to get a challenge from Jeno James, who has spent his four seasons shuffling between guard and tackle. With a chance to concentrate on one position, James could be a factor.

  • One of the more refreshing things about Carolina Panthers first-round draft pick Jordan Gross is his humility. Unlike many first-round picks that come into this league, Gross has his head on straight and is willing to learn, often staying late during the team's coaching sessions making his teammates very eager about his upcoming first season.

Rushing: 26th in NFL
Passing: 31st in NFL

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2002: 25th in rushing (89.3), 27th in YPC (3.7), 21st in sacks (41), 20th in PA per sack (14.8)

C-John Wade
G-Kerry Jenkins
G-Jason Whittle
T-Roman Oben
T-Kenyatta Walker

This isn't a great unit but they played well a season ago despite the poor numbers above. Kenyatta Walker is a good young tackle that will anchor this line for years to come. The rest of the linemen are only average football players and the team will be pleased if they can match the performance of a season ago. What this unit needs to do is become more aggressive during play. The players seem to be a little to laid back to really dominate a football game. John Wade was signed from Jacksonville and he could become a solid option in the middle as he takes over from Jeff Christy. Jason Whittle will likely start in the place of Cosey Coleman who wasn't very good last year.

With three draft picks spent on offensive linemen, the depth has improved for this unit. Rookies Lance Ninmo, Austin King and Sean Mahan won't compete for spots this year but may do so in 2004. The other backups include Cosey Coleman who may still start during the upcoming season.

Latest News

  • The Buccaneers' offensive line was magnificent during the playoffs last January but, by their own admission, inconsistent for much of the 2002 regular season. Early in the offseason, that unit was shaken up, with center Jeff Christy and interior-line sub Todd Washington departing and center John Wade and guard Jason Whittle arriving. "They're making great progress," said Gruden. "They're not going up against Jones Junior High every day, either. These guys they're blocking are outstanding football players, as good as there are in the world, and they bring it every single play.

Rushing: 31th in NFL
Passing: 18th in NFL

29. Atlanta Falcons

2002: 16th in rushing (98.4), 26th in YPC (3.9), 16th in sacks (36), 23rd in PA per sack (14.3)

C-Roberto Garza
G-Travis Claridge
G-Kynan Forney
T-Bob Whitfield
T-Todd Weiner

The cornerstone of this group is Bob Whitfield who has manned the tackle position with the team since '92. However his best years are behind him and he no longer plays at a Pro-Bowl level. This group has talent but was disappointing in performance a season ago. Three of the starters are under 26 years of age (Claridge, Forney and Garza) and should continue to grow as football players. It appears as though Garza will step into the role of center for the team, a position he is very comfortable with. There is also a gifted young backup in Martin Bibla who could compete for playing time this season. I expect this group to grow this season and become a better all-around line.

A couple of youngsters will be the first ones off the bench if injury strikes. Both Todd McClure and Martin Bibla could compete to start this season but will provide solid depth if they don't win the battle. A sleeper lineman to watch is Dwayne Morgan who has looked good in camps so far.

Latest News

  • "From where (Dwayne Morgan) started (the program) to where he ended up, he made very, very large gains," Miller stated. "He's got some explosion and he's a kid that also made about 100 percent of his workouts and drove from Griffin, GA (an hour trek) every day to get here; that tells you a lot about him.

  • Todd McClure and Roberto Garza each spent time working with the No. 1 offensive line. Theirs will be one of the most interesting competitions in training camp. Offensive line coach Rennie Simmons said McClure, who started all 16 games last season will be No. 1 on the depth chart when camp opens. But Garza, a third-year pro has shown promise.

Rushing: 27th in NFL
Passing: 28th in NFL

30. Detroit Lions

2002: 30th in rushing (86.0), 22nd in YPC (4.1), 1st in sacks (20), 1st in PA per sack (29.9)

C-Dominic Raiola
G-Ray Brown
G-Tony Semple
T-Jeff Backus
T-Stockar McDougle

Nobody expected much out of the Lions offensive line in 2002 but they actually played pretty well considering the lack of weapons the team had on offense. The team has Ray Brown penciled into the starting lineup. Considering he is 40 years old already, that could be a scary proposition. He is in great shape and has been a great player but how much fuel can be left in the gas tank? The rest of the line is young and talented and should hold its own this year. Both Jeff Backus and Dominic Raiola began to come into their own last season. Stockar McDougle is a huge individual who weighs in at 367 pounds and is a very tough man to get around to sack the quarterback. If he continues to improve on the field, he could develop into a very good tackle. This unit could perform much better than my ranking would indicate. I simply think Brown may be a little too old to be a full time starter and the others probably need another year of seasoning. The Lions have potential here to play very well.

There is some experience at the backup positions. Matt Joyce and Eric Beverly are capable of doing a solid job if given the chance. Neither are great players but they would hold their own out there on the field.

Latest News

  • The last time that a Detroit Lion offensive lineman made a trip to Honolulu, Hawaii, to represent the Honolulu blue and silver in the NFL Pro Bowl was 1998. That could change as three members of the starting unit LT Jeff Backus, RT Stockar McDougle and C Dominic Raiola are primed to make big contributions this season. At least, that is what Lions president and CEO Matt Millen thinks.

Rushing: 28th in NFL
Passing: 8th in NFL

31. Dallas Cowboys

2002: 15th in rushing (99.3), 14th in YPC (4.2), 30th in sacks (54), 31st in PA per sack (9.7)

C-Tyson Walter
G-Larry Allen
G-Andre Gurode
T-Flozell Adams
T-Ryan Young

The only holdover left from the glory days of the Cowboys is Larry Allen who is entering his tenth season. He was the best in the NFL at one point but he has lost some steps over the last several seasons and has had difficulty staying healthy. He can still a solid player though and is the anchor of this young line. Andre Gurode is an athletic, young talent who will continue to improve with playing time. The playing time he was able to earn last season was invaluable to a young player. Tyson Walter also received playing time as a 6th round pick last year and held his own. Flozell Adams can play at a high level but at times seems to doubt himself on the field and hasn't been able to put forth a consistent effort play in and play out.. Look for another average season at best.

Al Johnson is a quality center who was drafted in the 2nd round of this year's draft. He is more talented than Walter and may get a shot right out of the gate to start on this line. Don't be surprised to see him starting from the beginning of the season. Matt Lehr and Justin Bates provided mediocre depth.

Latest News

  • The Cowboys announced that they have agreed to terms with second-round pick Al Johnson, a center from Wisconsin. Details of the deal weren't released.

Rushing: 22nd in NFL
Passing: 32nd in NFL

32. Houston Texans

2002: 32nd in rushing (66.5), 32nd in YPC (2.9), 32nd in sacks (76), 32nd in PA per sack (6.9)

C-Steve McKinney
G-Ryan Schau
G-Fred Weary
T-Chester Pitts
T-Zach Wiegert

The Texans may have been the worst offensive line in the history of the NFL a season ago. The team picked up a starter via free agency in Zach Wiegert and he represents a huge increase in talent on the line. The interior trio of Steve McKinney, Ryan Schau and Fred Weary should do a decent job but the team will need to improve the talent either via the draft or free agency next season. Chester Pitts learned on the fly last year as a rookie and struggled, however the experience should help him improve somewhat in 2003. This unit will still be weak compared to most NFL teams but shouldn't give up an embarrassing 76 sacks again and hopefully we have a better YPC average of only 2.9. I don't think it is possible to be any worse.

Key backups will be Greg Randall picked up in free agency and 3rd round draft choice Seth Wand. Randall will provide excellent depth and Wand will hopefully get to learn on the sideline for much of the season because like Pitts, he isn't ready to play yet at this level.

Latest News

  • LT Tony Boselli Retires leaving a huge hole on the offensive line: "I am retiring because of medical reasons, specifically my left shoulder, which did not continue to improve to the point where I could play," Boselli said.

  • Even with the retirement of Tony Boselli, the Texans appear to be in better shape on the offensive line. With Boselli's status clear, the club can now concentrate on filling in the blanks after a series of offseason moves. The Texans addressed their depth needs by signing tackle Zach Wiegert and guard Todd Washington in free agency, trading for tackle Greg Randall and drafting tackle Seth Wand. Chester Pitts filled in for Boselli at left tackle last season and will move into the role on a permanent basis. That leaves Fred Weary, Milford Brown and Ryan Schau competing for playing time.

Rushing: 32nd in NFL
Passing: 30th in NFL

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