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Ricky Wagner is flying under the radar

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Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens right tackle Ricky Wagner is hoping to recapture his best form this season.

With his first opportunity at extended action in 2014, Wagner graded out as one of the top right tackles in the NFL. Aided by Gary Kubiak’s shrewd play calling, Wagner allowed only two sacks while teaming with Marshal Yanda to open gaping running lanes on the right side. Wagner suffered a season-ending foot injury in the second to last game of 2014.

Last season, Wagner’s play regressed. Whether it was attributable to lingering effects from his Lisfranc surgery, adjusting to Marc Trestman or a (redshirt) sophomore slump, Wagner could not maintain his level of play from the previous season. His run blocking in particular fell off, playing a part in the offensive wide rushing downturn. From 2014 to 2015, the Ravens yards per carry average fell from 4.5 to 3.9 and rushing yards per game from 126 to 92.

Center Jeremy Zuttah will return after shoulder surgery cut his 2015 season short. Right guard Marshal Yanda is still playing at an All-World level and rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley already looks like an upgrade from Eugene Monroe in the run blocking department. But the Ravens will also need Wagner at his best to rediscover their rushing success of 2014 after losing Kelechi Osemele’s run blocking ability.

So far in the preseason, Wagner has been up to the task. A healthy offseason has apparently helped him regain agility in his foot. Pro Football Focus was impressed by Wagner’s performance against Indianapolis...

Ricky Wagner is understandably flying under the radar on an offensive line breaking in two new starters. Nevertheless, his importance to the team should not be underestimated. Wagner has shown the capacity to play at a very high level and is entering a contract season. Regardless of who emerges as playmakers next season, more consistent blocking across the offensive line will be vital for the Ravens offense.