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Now that the inactives list have hit us, offensive guard Kelechi Osemele has officially been ruled out of the game. Originally listed as questionable on the final injury report, Osemele's absence will be sorely missed more than just about any other player.
Earlier this week, the Ravens put center Jeremy Zuttah on injured reserve, paving the way for second-year player and math genius John Urschel to be in the starting lineup for the rest of the season. Taking over for Kelechi Osemele will be Ryan Jensen, a third-year player that has played sparingly in 4 games this season.
Now that Osemele is also listed on the inactive list, the Ravens have a gaping hole in the center of their offensive line, one they can little afford against one of the best defensive lines in the league. With Aaron Donald, 2014's Rookie of the Year Award winner, going up against inexperienced players, the Rams will likely want to bring additional pressure through the middle. It will limit the running game dramatically, which will help the 17th ranked Rams rush defense.
The loss of the run game and the added pressure will have quarterback Joe Flacco running for his life all while still trying to get used to his new weapons now that wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. is on injured reserve. The Ravens would be well served to use play action and have the running back chip block to buy Flacco some more time and to use shorter developing routes to get the ball out quickly. If offensive coordinator Marc Trestman can make those adjustments, look for the running backs and tight ends to have a HUGE role in today's game, going up against a Rams linebacker corps that isn't the greatest at coverage.
This also marks a great opportunity for head coach John Harbaugh and the rest of the Ravens organization to test out it's young linemen for the future. There has been some talk that Baltimore might not want to keep Zuttah next season since cutting him will save an estimated $2.4 million in 2016. With guard Kelechi Osemele likely testing the free agent market that could pay him massively, the Ravens will also get to see if Ryan Jensen will be an adequate stopgap or even replacement for Osemele if he were to leave the team this offseason.
While the loss of Osemele for this game could be a big part of the reason that the Ravens fall to 2-8, it might help them far more both short-term and for the future.