The NFL’s latest serious offensive line injury affected the New Orleans Saints, who have run into some uncertainty regarding linemen this month.
Nick Fairley’s heart issue putting his career in question preceded Terron Armstead suffering a labrum tear that will keep him out. The statuses of both cloud New Orleans’ picture on their offensive and defensive lines. While the Saints are understaffed without Fairley on their defensive front, they made a first-round investment in an offensive tackle. However, the plans for Ryan Ramczyk having now shifted could make his development more difficult.
Ramczyk is now the primary option to open the season as the starting left tackle opposite right-edge man Zach Strief. The Armstead-Strief partnership is one of the league’s longest-running tackle setups, and the veteran right tackle knows the uphill battle Ramczyk — set to spend his rookie year as a swing tackle, prior to Armstead’s injury — could be fighting.
The 12th-year lineman said the Saints are “asking a lot” of Ramczyk by slotting him as the starting left tackle from Day 1, but Strief noted the Wisconsin product has the potential to succeed nonetheless.
“Ryan is going to be a really good player, but he’s also got a lot of work to do,” Strief said during a Sirius XM Radio interview with Alex Marvez and Zig Fracassi. “The transition to the NFL is a big jump, especially at left tackle. You’re asking a lot of a young guy.”
Although Wisconsin does not use a spread attack the way many college teams do now, Ramczyk — who had hip surgery in January — still faces a challenge due to limited offseason practice reps. Many first-round linemen take years to develop into viable starters now, but without the luxury of being able to learn behind Armstead, Ramczyk may be thrown into action. Strief, though, didn’t want to discount Khalif Barnes or Bryce Harris as first-unit options on the left side. That said, Ramczyk’s ceiling is much higher than those two veterans, leading to the Saints going in this direction for now.