No longer a rookie, Tyler Linderbaum arrived at OTAs still hungry to prove himself entering his second season.
Linderbaum started all 17 games and was named to the Pro Football Writers Association's All-Rookie Team last season. That's a strong start to what's expected to be a long and successful run as the Ravens' starting center. Despite his steady play, Linderbaum says his first season was a challenge from start to finish.
"Just coming in [to the NFL], I don't think you realize how hard of a game it is, especially the kind of talent that you're going against," Linderbaum said. "Every rep that you have in a game [or] in practice, it's not going to be easy, so just being more consistent is what everyone strives to be and something that everyone is trying to get better at. That's definitely something that is going to help set you up for success in this league - is just being consistent and doing your job."
Linderbaum did his job as a rookie, particularly as a run blocker. Pro Football Focus ranked Linderbaum as the fourth-best run blocker among all NFL centers with an 84.2 grade, and his overall grade (74.6) was sixth-best among the league's centers.
Not only was Linderbaum forceful at the point of attack, but his agility often allowed him to reach the second level and drive defenders off the ball downfield.
However, Linderbaum will likely be challenged more as a pass blocker in the scheme being installed by new Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken. According to PFF, Linderbaum gave up three sacks and 23 hurries last season, and the hurries tied for third-most in the league among centers, while his pass blocking grade (53.3) ranked 42nd.
Linderbaum was college football's best center at Iowa in a run-heavy system that helped him transition into the Ravens' offense last season. However, with Baltimore expected to put more emphasis on the passing game in 2023, Linderbaum will use OTA and training camp reps to strengthen an aspect of his game that he didn't practice as much in college.
"Especially coming from a run-style offense in college. It's always something [that's good] just to get back those reps that I didn't get," Linderbaum said. "You can get better at everything, and certainly, pass blocking is one of them, but everyone around the league is saying that. Everyone can improve on that."
Monken believes in playing to the strength of his personnel, and in Linderbaum he has a physical, yet nimble, center who is determined to become a Pro Bowl player at his position. While the Ravens are expected to throw the ball more, they will not abandon the running attack that has been a huge part of their offensive DNA. Linderbaum is using OTAs to familiarize himself with the new system as quickly as possible, and his rookie season gives him a strong foundation moving forward.
"[The] Ravens offensive line is going to be [the] Ravens offensive line, so come off the ball, push people back," Linderbaum said. "As time goes on, we'll form an identity in terms of if we want to run the ball [or] pass the ball. But [it's] still the same philosophy and technique.
"It's been a good transition. He's (Monken) doing a really good job at helping the guys, verbiage-wise keeping some similar stuff. There are little tweaks here and there, but at the end of the day, this is what we do for a living, so we have to be professional, work together with each other and just learn the offense
Whenever you have 18 games under your belt in the NFL it's definitely going to help you. There's still a lot for me personally to get better and to improve on, but we have a great coaching staff here and a great group of guys here that are willing to help each other out."