Ravens: Alejandro Villanueva has ‘struggled at times’ in training camp

Ravens, Alejandro Villanueva (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Ravens, Alejandro Villanueva (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Ravens made sweeping changes to their offensive line this offseason. One such change involved the signing of longtime Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle, Alejandro Villanueva.

Villanueva was signed to be Orlando Brown’s replacement after the former third-round pick was shipped to the Kansas City Chiefs in the offseason.

At 32-years-old, Villanueva was never expected to be a long-term solution at the position. Rather, the Ravens hoped that he would hold down the fort in the short term and help solidify the team’s offensive line.

However, the veteran lineman has had a slow start to his Ravens career.

Alejandro Villanueva has struggled a little at Ravens training camp.

Villanueva has reportedly “struggled at times,” per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic with the seven-year NFL veteran having trouble with rookie first-round pick Odafe Oweh.

Zrebiec reports that Villanueva has struggled with Oweh’s blend of speed and power — something that could be a cause for concern for the aging tackle.

Villanueva turns 33-years-old next month and isn’t the player that he used to be. Perhaps this is a sign that he’s beginning to slow down.

Still, it’s not as if he wasn’t effective last season. Villanueva started all 16 games for the fifth consecutive season and finished with a Pro Football Focus grade of 74.9 that ranked 28th out of all offensive tackles.

He was still an above-average player and an even better pass blocker. Villanueva’s 77.8 PFF pass-block grade was 23rd at his position, although he wasn’t quite as effective as a run blocker posting a lackluster 61.0 run-block grade.

Villanueva is a powerful technician, but on the wrong side of 30, he could struggle against more athletic pass rushers this season. Or perhaps Oweh is just an absolute freak of nature.

It hasn’t been all bad for the longtime AFC North mainstay, however. Zrebiec detailed how Friday’s practice marked Villanueva’s best day of training camp so far.

"“Villanueva, though, may have had his best day yet Friday. He won back-to-back one-on-one reps against Pernell McPhee, getting the veteran outside linebacker to the ground and landing on him on the first one. He kept the Ravens’ outside linebackers mostly in check during the team drills, too.”"

More performances like that will leave Baltimore’s coaching staff more optimistic about the state of the offensive line heading into the 2021 season.

The Ravens need to see an improved offensive line in 2021 if they are going to have any consistent offensive success.

Next. Ravens: 4 standouts from the first padded practice of training camp. dark

Villanueva will be a big part of that. The Ravens are hoping that Friday’s practice was a sign of things to come.