As right guard Kevin Zeitler exited his pre-game warmup shaking his head and receiving back-pats from various training staff members it signaled the offense would have a fresh face for the position for the first time since Zeitler became a Raven in 2020. All expectations slotted 2021 third-round pick Ben Cleveland, or go with versatile offensive lineman Patrick Mekari. But, as the Ravens warmed up as a unit, neither were paired between rookie center Tyler Linderbaum and right tackle Morgan Moses.
Rather, undrafted offensive lineman Trystan Colon, who had never started at right guard in the NFL, received the spot.
Colon, 24, was an undrafted center out of Missouri in 2020. He has started in three games for the Ravens, with all three coming at center. Now, he’s making his first start and against none other than the Pittsburgh Steelers and defensive end Cameron Heyward.
It’s rather striking the Ravens won’t be trotting out Cleveland, who has largely disappointed this season. Entering 2022, many were expecting him to seize hold of the starting left guard role over Mekari and Ben Powers. But, he missed four practices due to failed conditioning tests and never caught on while Powers became the starter and has become a top pass-blocking guard in the NFL.
It makes sense for Colon to start over Mekari, seeing as he’s the backup left tackle behind Ronnie Stanley, who is returning for this game. But, to not have Cleveland in the starting rotation is a signal of the ‘bust’ label being planted on Cleveland if he can’t see the field when Zeitler is out and they opt for an undrafted center to take the reigns instead.