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Saturday, June 10, 2023

Ravens Alejandro Villanueva relishes new rushing offense

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NFL: Pro Bowl
The Baltimore Ravens signed two-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva to a two-year deal earlier this month. He played left tackle for the last five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers but will move to right tackle for the Ravens. Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens new offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva got his first on field learning experience when the team started organized team activities this week. Villanueva played left tackle for the last five seasons with Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now, he is moving to right tackle for Baltimore. Moving from left to right isn’t a big concern for Villanueva. He is more focused on getting the playbook down and understanding his responsibilities in the new scheme. Fortunately for Villanueva and the Ravens, the scheme he is learning is similar to the run-first offense he played at Army. The chance to play for a team that won’t throw the ball “800 times a season” is a welcome transition from the Steelers to the Ravens, a team that has had one of the NFL’s top rushing offenses over the last two seasons.

“The mindset, when you know that you’re with a team that runs the ball well, it involves every single room in the offense, everybody is in unison, and it’s a lot of timing involved with running the ball,” Villanueva said after signing with Baltimore. “If you get the timing right, if you get the nice tracks on everybody, then usually you can get to run the ball, and for an offensive lineman, it’s very easy, because you don’t have a lot of angst when the team is running the ball well.

“For an offensive lineman, it’s definitely an awesome experience to be able to find angles to the hips of the defensive lineman, to be able to use your hands and be aggressive, take more risk on your blocks, be able to work, obviously, in tandem with players to your left and right, instead of being on an island blocking and just hoping that if the ball doesn’t get out of the hands quickly, that it’s [not] going to be a catastrophe.”

That’s not to say it won’t be a transition without any obstacles. There is more than just learning a new playbook. Villanueva understands that he’ll have to get used to getting into a new stance and seeing the game from a different perspective on the right side of the offensive line as opposed to the left. Trading offensive lineman Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs created a void for Villanueva to sign with the Ravens and make the switch to right tackle.

Choosing Baltimore was an easy decision because he knows the organization pretty well from his days as an AFC North archival with the Steelers. Villanueva says he still has contact with some of his former Pittsburgh teammates. He’ll get to see the rivalry from the other side this season especially when Baltimore faces the Steelers in Pittsburgh on December 5, 2021. The two teams will conclude the regular season with a clash in Baltimore on January 9, 2022.


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