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John DeShazier: Newcomer Larry Warford one of few constants on Saints offensive line

Posted Oct 3, 2017

Warford and center Max Unger only members to have played all four games

In five NFL seasons, Larry Warford is no stranger to offensive line changes. During his first four seasons, with the Detroit Lions, he witnessed his share of them.

But he admits he hasn’t seen anything like what he has seen with the New Orleans Saints this early in a season, which, perhaps, makes it all the more impressive that the team is 2-2 entering the bye week, after winning its last two games, most recently Sunday’s 20-0 victory over Miami at Wembley Stadium in London.

“I’ve been through a few offensive line changes throughout the years,” Warford said. “And just the amount of depth that we have on this offensive line has made it extremely easy to be able to just come in at any time – anybody can come in at any time – and play well and not really lose a step, in a sense.

“I think that’s great about this offensive line. But it is weird to have change this early, a bunch of people moving around this early, but I think everybody has done really well with it.”

Change, in fact, has been a near constant for the Saints along the offensive line.

Rookie Ryan Ramczyk, drafted with the intent of backing up right tackle Zach Strief and eventually ascending to the starting position, moved to left tackle (his college position) when Terron Armstead tore his labrum during minicamp.

Then, when Strief injured his knee in the regular-season opener (Senio Kelemete came off the bench to finish the game at right tackle), Ramczyk moved to right tackle to start the second game of the season, Kelemete moved into the starting lineup at left guard and Andrus Peat, the starter at left guard, kicked out to left tackle, where he started several games last season in place of the injured Armstead.

That line started and remained intact for Games 2 and 3 against New England and Carolina. Strief returned from his knee injury to start against Miami, but was injured during the game. So, midstream, Ramczyk flipped from left tackle back to right tackle, Peat slid out to left tackle from left guard and Kelemete subbed in at left guard.

The depth and versatility have been critical for the Saints. Only Warford and center Max Unger have been able to start every game at their respective line positions, and Unger missed much of offseason and preseason after surgery and rehabilitation from a foot injury.

“Just Ryan being able to play both sides, right and left, as a rookie – that just speaks volumes of the kind of player he is and what he’s going to turn out to be,” Warford said. “I really respect him for it and it’s great to see that out of a young guy, to be that versatile.

“Peat, being able to play guard and tackle – it’s not easy.  People just think all offensive line plays the same, (but) it’s completely different just moving around to one spot. He has done well.

“And I think Senio has done the greatest job because he can play guard and tackle on either side, left or right, and he can play center. That just amazes me. He’s one of the most valuable guys we have on this team for his skill set. To be able to do that is uncommon. Just seeing that out of these guys really amazes me. It makes life easier on everybody.”

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