The whistle blew. Ravens defensive players jumped in the air, wildly waving their arms and pointing. The offensive line had been called for a false start.

So off the line went, a group of the largest men on the field, running a lap around the practice field as punishment for the penalty.

They ran six laps Tuesday at the Ravens’ first minicamp practice.

“I think we’re going to learn quickly,” left tackle Ronnie Stanley said. “It’s going to get through our heads for sure.”

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Coach John Harbaugh gave the group some grace, saying they were practicing a new cadence that affected play at the line of scrimmage. He understands there will be mistakes.

“You have a choice,” Harbaugh said. “You either always go on one or you say we’re going to push through it, and we’re going to live with the mistakes, but we’re going to get good at it. So we want to get good at it because we think cadence is a weapon, and we want to be able to communicate at the line, and we want to be able to protect our communication.”

But he has a tip for his players: “There’s a real easy way to stop it. Don’t be jumping offsides.”

The line is filled with new faces, both to the team and to the league. There are six rookies competing for spots, including second-round pick Roger Rosengarten and seventh-round pick Nick Samac (although Samac has been limited by injury). There are also three players with just one year in the league, including Andrew Vorhees who did not get to practice at all last season due to injury. There are only three players who have played five years or more, and one, Josh Jones, is new to the team.

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The group will be highly scrutinized over the coming months as it takes on the task of protecting star quarterback Lamar Jackson and opening running lanes for prized offseason acquisition Derrick Henry.

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With that in mind, Stanley said it was extra important for him to be here through organized team activities, although they are optional and veterans sometimes continue training offsite.

Tackle Roger Rosengarten (70) assists center Tyler Linderbaum (64) with a drill during the Baltimore Ravens’ first mandatory minicamp of the year at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills on June 11, 2024.
Tackle Roger Rosengarten (70) assists center Tyler Linderbaum (64) with a drill during the Baltimore Ravens’ first mandatory minicamp of the year at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills on June 11, 2024. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

“I just know we have a lot of new faces, a lot of new guys, that are going to be part of this team, part of this offense,” Stanley said. “Just wanted to make sure we just get our chemistry off on the right start.”

Stanley is going into year nine, although he says his energy level is back where it was in year five. Back then, he was coming off a Pro Bowl season, but an injury in 2020 limited him to just six games. He played one game the next year and hasn’t played more than 13 in a season since. He battled a knee injury through last season.

Now, though, he has energy to keep going after practice, he said. Harbaugh agreed that Stanley looks in shape and ready to go. Stanley is determined to prove he’s still that Pro Bowl caliber player — he said it was killing him inside to know he hasn’t been playing to his potential — and if he does, that would be huge for the team, Harbaugh said.

Stanley bet on his renewed health in the offseason when he restructured his contract, freeing $9.6 million in cap space by agreeing to a deal that dropped his base salary from $11 million to $3 million but heavily rewards him for games played.

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His performance takes on more importance considering Stanley is one of two returning starters from last year. The other is Pro Bowl center Tyler Linderbaum, who Stanley said has become even more of a leader with his communication skills.

Every other spot is up for grabs, though, making the offensive line battle the most intriguing of camp, whether they’re making a spectacle running laps or not.

Head Coach John Harbaugh takes questions from reporters following the Baltimore Ravens’ first mandatory minicamp of the year at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills on June 11, 2024. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

There’s no indication yet of which players have the inside track to a starting spot. Through OTAs and the first day of minicamp, the Ravens rotated players frequently. While minicamp is more competitive than OTAs, it’s not necessarily a great indication of who will win the job. The biggest question mark last season was left guard, and Sala Aumavae-Laulu started through minicamp — but John Simpson ended up winning the job.

However, Harbaugh said Tuesday that the goal is to settle on starters, “the earlier the better.” They’re not making decisions this week, but they are taking this week into consideration heading into training camp.

“It would be nice if we can — kind of by the first into the second week of training camp — it would be a goal to kind of have a good idea [of the starters],” Harbaugh said. “If it goes into the games, it could go into preseason games, maybe just one spot up for grabs, that would be OK, but the sooner the better.”

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