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Michael Oher has started every game during his three seasons with the Ravens. It just hasn’t been at the same position, as he’s rotated between left and right tackle.
Based on the Ravens’ draft selections last weekend, there’s a possibility he could rotate again.
Baltimore drafted tackle/guard Kelechi Osemele in the second round, and Head Coach John Harbaugh said that he’ll compete for the starting job at left guard and at right tackle.
“I think that we will just let those guys compete and see also who meshes better where,” Harbaugh said. “Jah [Reid] being in the mix, and also Michael Oher being in the mix and Bryant McKinnie being in the mix. You know what, it gives us some competition, and we like that.”
Harbaugh was later asked if Osemele could find an immediate place at right tackle, and he elaborated on his comments.
“I think it goes back to this: All things are possible,” Harbaugh said. “All positions are up for grabs, and certain guys obviously have a certain hold on positions. Joe [Flacco] is our quarterback, and I said Tyrod [Taylor] is our No. 2 guy, and certain guys are the lead dogs, there’s no doubt about it. But I’m not ruling anything out.”
There are a host of different potential offensive line combinations, including putting Oher on the left side and Osemele on the right.
But as long as veteran Bryant McKinnie is on the roster, Oher doesn’t see himself taking over that position again.
After Oher started 16 games at left tackle in 2010, the Ravens brought in McKinnie and pushed the 2009 first-round pick to the right side. With McKinnie signed for another season, Oher expects to stay there for at least one more year.
“As long as Bryant McKinnie is here, I’ll play right tackle,” Oher said. “There’s no way around that. I just like being out there on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays.”
Osemele willchallengethem for playing time.
The 6-foot-5, 333 pounder played primarily left tackle at Iowa State, where he was a four-year starter, but he believes he has the versatility to transition to guard or tackle in the NFL.
He’s also hoping to win a starting job right away.
“I know there is a spot open, and honestly my goal is to come in there and try to take it,” Osemele said.
Another person who could see Osemele making an immediate contribution is Oher.
When Osemele came to the Ravens facility over the weekend, Oher was one of the first players to greet him. Oher was in for a workout and took advantage of the chance to meet his new teammate.
“He’s a big guy, and I’m looking forward to him making an impact right away,” Oher said. “He’s looking like he’s willing to learn and get things down.”
And in terms of competing with Osemele, Oher said that’s just part of life in the NFL.
“You’re always going to have the competition,” Oher said. “In the NFL, everyone works extremely hard. With the Ravens, we do a great job of bringing in talented guys to compete every day, no matter what. If you’re a starter or if you’re a veteran that’s been around a long time, you’re still going to have to compete.”
Last season the Ravens hada solid offensive line, clearing the way for Ray Rice to have a career season. While the group lost Pro Bowler Ben Grubbs to free agency, expectations are still high for the veteran unit.
With Oher, McKinnie, right guard Marshal Yanda and center Matt Birk all signed through next season, the Ravens are returning four of their five starters on the line and Oher has high hopes for what the unit can accomplish.
“Time will tell how good we can be,” Oher said. “We’ll just continue to build on what we did last year. We’re not going to be able to start on where we left off. You’re going to have to work on it and continue to get better during the offseason and during camps. It’s just a process that you got to start back over and build on some of the good things.”