Ravens sign free-agent of­fen­sive line­man Austin Howard

Cecil Whig - - RAVENS COVERAGE - By SEAN GROGAN sgro­gan@ce­cil­whig.com

OWINGS MILLS — The Bal­ti­more Ravens have signed veteran of­fen­sive line­man Austin Howard.

Howard was re­leased by the Oak­land Raiders on July 28 and will likely be­come Bal­ti­more’s start­ing right tackle. James Hurst has been play­ing the po­si­tion with the first-team offense since Rick Wagner signed with the Detroit Lions in free agency.

Howard, 30, signed as an un­drafted free agent with the Philadel­phia Ea­gles in 2010 and spent part of the 2011 sea­son on the Ravens’ prac­tice squad.

“We were dis­ap­pointed to lose him; I re­mem­ber it well when we lost him. We wanted to keep him at the time, too, and that is how it works in this league,” head coach John Har­baugh said Satur­day. “He did a great job, but a lot of times guys like to come back to Bal­ti­more. They get out and see that this was a pretty good place. He was ex­cited to get back.”

He signed with the New York Jets late in the 2011 sea­son and be­came a starter the fol­low­ing year. Howard signed a five-year, $30 mil­lion con­tract with the Oak­land Raiders on March 12, 2014. He played three sea­sons in Oak­land.

Howard signed a three­year deal with the Ravens.

”He was in, and I had a long talk with him on Satur­day. He is ex­cited, he is a com­peti­tor, and he is happy to be back,” Har­baugh said. “He will be out there with us on Monday.”

Howard pro­vides muchneeded depth to a thin of­fen­sive line in Bal­ti­more. The Ravens lost po­ten­tial start­ing cen­ter John Urschel to re­tire­ment on the first day of train­ing camp and fourth-round draft pick Nico Si­ra­gusa to a sea­son-end­ing knee in­jury on the fifth day of prac­tice.

Howard – a 6-foot-7, 330-pounder out of North­ern Iowa – started all 16 games each sea­son be­tween 201214, but dealt with in­juries last sea­son and re­port­edly had shoul­der surgery in Jan­uary. The ver­sa­tile of­fen­sive line­man has started 72 ca­reer games at three dif­fer­ent po­si­tions (right tackle, right guard and left guard).

Fol­low Sean Grogan on Twit­ter: @Sean_Ce­cilWhig

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