When Ravens tackle Jared Gaither missed the 2010 season with a back injury, the former Maryland Terps’ absence left a glaring hole on the Baltimore offensive line and forced the coaching staff out of position and out of their comfort zones.
And with Gaither’s upcoming free agent status-combined with the inconsistency on the part of current left tackle Michael Oher-the Ravens could be in need of another bookend tackle to fill that role in order to adequately protect quarterback Joe Flacco.
Why not replace Gaither-who combined with his injury, high bargaining price to return, and attitude issues-with another local college alumni who went on to bigger and better things in the NFL?
That of course would be former Towson Tigers tackle Jermon Bushrod, who also is scheduled to be a free agent given the owners and players agree on a new collective bargaining agreement by March 4th.
Bushrod-who was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL Draft out of Towson-has been a starter for the Saints the last two seasons.
That includes the 2009 Super Bowl run for the Saints in which Jermon replaced former first-round pick Jamaal Brown and he protected the blind side for All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees on their way to the franchise’s first ever championship.
He started 14 games for the Saints that year, and his stellar play not only made the Saints offensive line better-he made the expensive and off-injured Brown expendable.
In his four years as a Saint, he has grown right along with the franchise, as a guy playing at the 1-AA level improved at the same time Coach Sean Payton grew as a head coach and the franchise changed from a perennial loser to the elite of the NFC.
“He’s a tough coach to play for,” Bushrod told Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” this week. “But I love every bit of it. What he’s demanding along with his level of cooperation is something I’ve never been around ever in my football career. You’ve got to love playing for a guy like him.”
He picked up right where he left off in 2010, and proving that he can be a top-of-the-line offensive tackle in the NFL might give him a big payday when the time comes for him to hit free agency.
Maybe that price will come from his “hometown”(he’s from Virginia) team in the Baltimore Ravens.
Bushrod-after his freshman redshirt-was a four year starter for the Towson Tigers and made All-Conference three of the four years. His final season at Towson, he was an integral part of the Tigers’ 7-4 season and over the course of his collegiate career, he started 38 straight games.
“If the situation ever presented itself,” Bushrod said. “You definitely have to be open to it. That would be kind of a neat experience being home. If the situation comes, than that’s something we’re going to have to deal with.”
But Bushrod said he’s going to give the Saints the benefit of the doubt. Not only are they the team that drafted him out of college and they were his first taste of the NFL, but he felt like he grew on to New Orleans and the family he gained winning the Super Bowl last season.
“I get the vibe they still want me here,” Bushrod said. “That’s something they have to work out on their end, and I’m definitely looking forward to talking with them again.”
But he also does understand that the money side of the NFL sometimes doesn’t allow players to stay where they desire, and it could turn out to be a business decision as to his NFL future.
“Everything is a process especially in this business,” Bushrod said. “You just have to kind of have to let everything sort itself out. This is definitely a new experience for me. But I’m taking it in stride and just enjoying the moment while catching up with my family and friends in this crazy time.”
WNST wouldn’t mind seeing Bushrod in black and purple next season! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!