Ogden holding off Father Time

By Darrell Laurant  |   Wednesday, June 14, 2006  |  Comments( 0 )

Baltimore Ravens
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He's arguably one of the best ever at his position, but he's over 30 years old and has had some injury problems in recent years. Nevertheless, the Baltimore Ravens are hoping he has a good year or two left in him, because this is a guy who knows what it's like to play in a Super Bowl.

Steve McNair? Well, yes -- but also Jonathan Ogden.

This season, the fortunes of these two Ravens will be inseparably linked. For whatever McNair manages to accomplish after coming over from Tennessee to become the starting quarterback, the 6-9, 345-pound Ogden will have his back (and his blind side).

After 11 years in the league, Ogden is still big, and still strong. What he's lost is a little bit of quickness that enabled a few more blitzers to slip past him last year. The Ravens finished 6-10, and quarterbacks Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright were sacked 42 times. McNair, a high-mileage 32 years old, may not be able to take that many hits this year.

Except for Ogden, the Ravens' line is largely anonymous -- guards Edwin Mulitalo, Brian Rimpf and Jason Brown, tackle Tony Pashos and center Mike Flynn. And Pashos, Rimpf and Brown were all considered a tad chunky, even for O-linemen, last season.

According to the Baltimore Sun, however, that somewhat porcine trio has all shed pounds and added muscle over the season. And Jonathan Ogden? Two words: Personal trainer.

"You get a little older, you have to maintain yourself a little more," Ogden told the Sun recently. "I hired a personal trainer to work me out three or four times a week. We worked on agility drills, and he gave me some kind of direction toward offseason workouts.

"I thought I had a pretty decent season last year, but I had some tight hamstrings."

Earlier in his career, Ogden suffered a knee sprain or two, but nothing requiring surgery. In 2000, the Baltimore Ravens made him the highest-paid offensive lineman in football, and the big guy (whose No. 79 is retired at UCLA) takes that vote of confidence seriously. To Ogden, last year's mediocre season hurt worse than arthroscopic surgery.

"Once you've been to the top, and then you go back to the bottom, it mentally drains you," Ogden said.

To be sure, no offensive lineman can hold off the inevitable forever. Father Time isn't quick, but he's a relentless bull rusher who will eventually break through any defense.

Based on past performance, however, Ogden can probably hold him off longer than most. And for that, Steve McNair will be grateful.

Get more Jonathan Ogden insights at Realfootball365.com
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