Monday, August 07, 2023

How Ravens' 'Fantastic' Tyler Linderbaum Is Building Off Rookie Year

Driven by heightened confidence, Baltimore Ravens center Tyler Linderbaum is poised for a big second season.


august 2, 2023

When the Baltimore Ravens drafted center Tyler Linderbaum in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, they did so with confidence that he could be an early impact player.

And by all accounts, Linderbaum proved to be exactly that, starting all 17 games in the middle of Baltimore's offensive line while giving up just three sacks, per Pro Football Focus.

But now, as the 23-year-old works through his second training camp, there's more on his mind than simply finding a rhythm; Linderbaum knows the offensive line sets the tempo, and he aspires to establish the tone for a more consistently sound group up front.

Better yet, with a standout rookie season under his belt, Linderbaum is legitimately driving the unit, sparked by a sense of confidence that offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris believes has transcended his leadership and overall skill-set from last year to this year.

"We speak in codes a lot up front, and he now understands everything that takes place," D'Alessandris said. "And he's really the coach's voice and eyes on the field, so he's reiterating what's being taught in the classroom, and then he goes to the field, and we work on the field, and he's continued doing that process.

"So, he's doing a really great job, and he's a great leader and an excellent performer."

Linderbaum echoed what D'Alessandris said, comparing his rookie season to his freshman year in college and claiming that he "definitely feel(s) more confident" with his voice this time around.

And really, it was only a matter of time until Linderbaum ascended into this role; he was well-regarded as a leader at Iowa, and the demands of the center position require a vocal presence.

Perhaps more importantly, centers need to be followed by their teammates - as Linderbaum noted, he's making the calls and the fronts, which forced him into a talking position.

The next step, he argues, is simply continuing what he's already done, creating more trust from those around him in regard to his leadership up front.

As for the on-field aspect, Linderbaum believes he's stronger than he was a year ago and spent his offseason working on technique and body positioning to better utilize that strength.

The result? A more well-rounded player equipped with the lessons of an already-impressive rookie campaign ... all the while recognizing there's still work to be done.

"I just think being more comfortable playing at this level," said Linderbaum, of what's different this year than last. "(It's) kind of (your) first year here, everything is coming at you so fast … Just getting so used to the speed of the game is important.

"So, definitely having a season under your belt is good, but there's still a lot of improvements to go."

Not everything is completely different for Linderbaum this year, though - the expectations that accompanied him last offseason still exist, just to a higher level and with a more cemented track record to support them.

In this instance, it's Pro Bowl talk - with one reporter asking offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley whether there are any similarities between Linderbaum and six-time Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz.

Stanley's response? The comparison may not be too far off in terms of the way the two centers conduct themselves on the gridiron.

"Off the field, they're completely different people, but, on the field, they (have a) very similar tenacity," Stanley said. "When they get upset, there's definitely another switch about them where they're just not going to take anything from anyone. So, they both have that about them, and that's something you always want to see in your center."

But regardless of comparisons, the point surrounding Linderbaum remains straightforward - he lived up to expectations as a rookie and has certainly raised the bar entering Year 2. Better yet, nobody expects more nor wants more growth than Linderbaum himself.

This profile of a young, driven, highly skilled center is certainly intriguing as it relates to the long-term future of Baltimore's offense, and D'Alessandris couldn't be fonder of both the tangible and intangible assets that Linderbaum brings to the table.

"Oh, I think it's fantastic," D'Alessandris said. "He's just a fantastic person and football player, and the way he carries himself and the respect … He's diligent at his job, so he wants to know – yes – the easy answers, but he wants to also find out the hard answers. So, we'll put him in that position where he has to grow in that area, and he's doing a fantastic job."

Will Linderbaum's future include the same accolades as the resume that Kruetz put together? Who knows - but he's working towards building his own legacy one day, one snap and one call at a time.

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