The line was supposed to be the most stable unit on the LSU offense this season.

Then the Tigers reported for preseason camp Friday and head coach Ed Orgeron announced that starting right guard Ed Ingram has been suspended indefinitely for an unspecified violation of team rules. Ingram might still be a key player this season and the line might still be a steadying force on an otherwise inexperienced offense.

But LSU finds itself adjusting to the loss of its starting right guard at the start of preseason camp just as it did a year ago when Maea Teuhema was suspended for academic shortcomings that ultimately ended his Tigers career.

Fortunately for LSU, it has more depth and inexperience on the line than it had a year ago.

“We had three freshmen that played last year,” Orgeron said just a day before revealing Ingram’s suspension. “So, we’re going to be stronger on the offensive line than we were last year, and we have more depth. We’ll be very strong on the offensive line this year.”

Ingram was one of those three freshmen last year and he was one of just two players who seemed to be a certain starter entering this camp. The other is sophomore Saahdiq Charles at left tackle.

Damien Lewis, one of two incoming JUCO standouts, will take over at right guard while Ingram is suspended. Ingram had been competing with senior Garrett Brumfield at left guard. “I think he would have wound up with a starting spot eventually,” Orgeron said of Lewis.

Ingram’s absence makes it even more likely that sophomore Lloyd Cushenberry III will hold on to the starting spot at center. It was thought that Lewis could be moved to center if he got beat out by Brumfield, but still proved to be one of the five best linemen. As long as Lewis is a first-team guard, Cushenberry faces less competition.

The right tackle will come down to a competition between sophomore Austin Deculus and Badara Traore, one of the highest-rated JUCO tackle recruits in the country.

No matter how the details play out, LSU should be more talented, deeper and more stable on the offensive line than it was last year, despite Ingram’s absence and the fact that center Will Clapp and tackle Toby Weathersby skipped their senior seasons to enter the 2018 NFL Draft.

Orgeron said the offensive line is “three deep at every position” after having “six healthy scholarship linemen last year.”

The line went through some growing pains last season after freshmen were pressed into duty. The Tigers simplified their blocking schemes four games into the season after the freshmen had a rocky start in the run game and the pass game, especially in Game 4 against Syracuse.

Ultimately Ingram made 12 starts and Charles made 9 while Deculus played in 13 games and Cushenberry 11. Charles was named to the SEC all-freshman team and Orgeron said Ingram “is one of the best guards I’ve seen as a freshman.”

The experience that group gained last season should pay dividends and the addition of the JUCO transfers makes this a more experienced group than the presence of just one senior among the potential starters might suggest.

This group needs to jell into an effective unit coming out of the gate for the Sept. 2 opener against Miami because the Tigers figure to have growing pains at all the primary skill positions.

Orgeron said there are four quarterbacks – Joe Burrow, Myles Brennan, Justin McMillan and Lowell Narcisse – competing for the starting position and they have combined to throw 64 passes in college.

The top four running backs – Nick Brossette, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and freshmen Chris Curry and Tae Provens – have a combined 55 carries in college.

After transfer Jonathan Giles (84 catches in two seasons at Texas Tech), the next seven wide receivers – Stephen Sullivan, Dee Anderson, Derrick Dillon, Drake Davis, Justin Jefferson  and freshmen Terrace Marshall and Ja’Marr Chase – have a combined 36 pass receptions in college.

The job of molding this unit falls to first-year offensive line coach James Cregg, who spent the last four seasons as an assistant in the NFL – last season with the Los Angeles Chargers and the three before that with the Denver Broncos. He has college coach experience at Tennessee and USC.