Baltimore Ravens offensive line coach Andy Moeller has been suspended by the NFL for the first two games of the season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
In April, he was sentenced to two years of supervised probation after being found guilty of driving while impaired by alcohol.
“We knew this was coming and we prepared for it,” Ravens Coach John Harbaugh said.
Todd Washington, a former NFL player who was hired as the Ravens’ assistant line coach this year, will take over for Moeller during the suspension.
“Todd’s done a very good job,” Harbaugh said. “Obviously, it’s always a group effort. Andy set things up very well.”
Moeller, 47, was stopped Sept. 18 by a state trooper on the outer loop of the Beltway at Greenspring Avenue after going 70 mph in a 55-mph zone, according to police records. He had a strong odor of alcohol and stumbled during a sobriety test, according to the statement of facts presented by the prosecution.
This marked the third time since December 2007 that Moeller had been arrested on alcohol-related charges. He was acquitted of driving while under the influence in May and was given probation for driving while visibly impaired in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 2007.
Moeller was promoted from assistant offensive line coach when the Ravens fired John Matsko four days after the playoff loss at Pittsburgh.
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti indicated at the end of the season that this is Moeller’s “final chance.”
“He’s either going to get it under control or he’s going to spend a lifetime of misery like other people that are affected by that,” Bisciotti said in January. “We’re behind him as long as he earns trust and continues to earn that trust. But he knows he’s one step away from not being a Raven and then probably not being in the NFL at all.”
Ravens center Matt Birk said he was surprised to hear about Moeller’s suspension, but he didn’t feel there would be many changes with Washington stepping in.
“It’s pretty much the same,” Birk said. “They’re different personalities, different guys, but coming into training camp, Coach Moeller and Coach Washington are on the same page on how we do things around here.”
Birk has fully participated in the Ravens’ last three days of practice — a promising sign that the 14-year veteran will start Sunday.
Birk, who underwent surgery on his left knee on Aug. 3, declined to put a percentage on the knee’s strength and stability, but he sounded optimistic that he would suit up against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I don’t like to do the percentages or anything,” he said. “I’ll keep treating it and [get] it to feel as good as it can on Sunday. And then we’ll just give it everything we’ve got.”
Starting left guard Ben Grubbs did not practice because of what the team has described as a thigh injury, but he is listed as probable. Backup inside linebacker Jason Phillips is questionable despite overcoming a concussion and fully practicing on Friday.
“He was good today,” Harbaugh said of Phillips after practice. “He banged his nose. He’s got such a great-looking nose anyway. But he’s okay.”
The Steelers have an injury concern in wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who did not practice for the second consecutive day. Cotchery, who has been bothered by a hamstring injury, is listed as doubtful. Pittsburgh ruled out backup linebacker Chris Carter (hamstring).