Ravens Update

Michael Oher: 'Playing left tackle is no big deal'

Baltimore Ravens veteran offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie plans to report to training camp Monday after missing the first three days of practice for personal reasons, according to representatives of the former Pro Bowl blocker. McKinnie, 32, has been dealing with an apparent back problem and had his chiropractor contact team officials.

The Ravens regard McKinnie's situation as an unexcused absence, placing him on the reserve/did not report list. Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, McKinnie has been fined $30,000 per day. Veterans reported to camp Wednesday. With McKinnie down in South Florida, Michael Oher has been lining up at left tackle with the first-team offense.

"We brought him here last year and he filled an unbelievable role for us last year and really was a big part of us having an opportunity to win," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said of McKinnie, who started every game last season. "You just let it play out. The season is not tomorrow, so you just let things play out. "I think we have a good feel if things work or what Bryant can do at left tackle. And obviously, you have to have plan B anyway. Nobody is worried about it. It will play out the way it should play out, and we will be ready either way." In order to be allowed to practice, McKinnie will have a few hurdles to overcome. McKinnie will need to take and pass a physical. McKinnie is required to pass a mandatory conditioning test involving timed intervals of six 150-yard runs: running 25 yards up, 25 yards back, 25 yards up, 25 yards back, 25 yards up and 25 yards back in no slower than 35 seconds with 70 seconds rest in between heats.

McKinnie has battled conditioning issues, and was told by coach John Harbaugh to report at a target weight of 345 pounds. McKinnie told the Times over the summer that he was down to 350 pounds after being held out of a mandatory minicamp when he weighed 354 pounds.

McKinnie was cut by the Minnesota Vikings last year after beefing up to 387 pounds during the NFL lockout.

"I've talked to him a few times," Oher said Friday. "I just told him to take your time and we'll be here if he needs us and things like that and just take care of anything he has going. So, I'm pretty sure he'll get everything squared away."

Oher indicated that he expects McKinnie to ultimately show up for work.

"I think so," McKinnie said. "He sounds positive. Like I told him, ‘Take your time, and we'll be waiting for you.'"

McKinnie is dealing with multiple lawsuits stemming from a $4.5 million loan taken during the work stoppage last year as well as other growing debts incurred to agents, creditors, mortgage companies and car dealerships. After firing multiple agents and financial advisors this offseason, McKinnie is finalizing hiring new representation.

McKinnie was paid a $500,000 roster bonus in March after pledging to general manager Ozzie Newsome that he would get in better shape. He started every game at left tackle last season after the Ravens signed him to a two-year contract that includes a $3.2 million base salary this year.

"I'm going to show up at the weight I'm supposed to be and handle my business and get everybody off my back," McKinnie told the Times this summer. "I want to get this work done, come in at the right weight and shut everybody up. I'm getting in shape."

The Ravens have expressed confidence in Oher, who started every game at right tackle last season after previously starting at left tackle two years ago.

"Mike, the way his mind works, he is such a team guy, ‘Right tackle, left tackle, coach, just tell me where you need me,'" Cameron said. "All tackles aren't that way. Some see themselves as a right or a left. We got the right guy. It's great to have a guy that can play either way, especially a guy that can be a great left tackle." WEBB RETURNS:Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb returned to practice Saturday one day after being excused from training camp to attend to a personal matter involving his son.

Webb was signed to a $50 million contract during the offseason after establishing himself as the Ravens' shutdown cornerback last season. He intercepted five passes during the regular season and three more during the playoffs.

INJURY UPDATE: Cornerback Jimmy Smith limped off the field, but his leg injury is believe to only be minor. Smith dealt with cramps Friday.

Outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw didn't finish practice after a collision with running back Bernard Pierce. He appeared to be dealing with a stinger on his right side, favoring his right arm. Wide receiver Tandon Doss experienced cramping issues as the Ravens practiced in full pads for the first time in hot temperatures. Offensive tackle Ramon Harewood (ankle), offensive lineman Jah Reid (calf), Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (hamstring) defensive end Pernell McPhee (knee), guard-center Jutin Boren (undisclosed), wide receiver David Reed (knee) didn't practice.

Reid, Reed, Ngata and McPhee are on the physically unable to perform list. Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs is on the non-football injury list after partially tearing his Achilles tendon in April.

FIRST MISS: Former Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff missed the first field goal of training camp, sailing a 48-yard try wide left.

Cundiff has connected on 18 of 19 field goals in three practices, including kicks from 55 and 50 yards Saturday.

Meanwhile, undrafted rookie kicker Justin Tucker has made 20 of 20 field goals. That included converting seven field goals Saturday with a long kick of 54 yards.

QUICK HITS: Cornerback Jimmy Graham intercepted Joe Flacco, racing nearly the entire length of the field for a touchdown.

Graham also intercepted a Tyrod Taylor pass targeted for wide receiver Jacoboy Jones. "One of the things about Corey is his versatility," defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. "We played him at the corner and the nickel spot, and I've also taught him to learn the backup safety. You never know how things are going to go down the road, how many make the cuts, and who's going to be here. You've always got to have those guys who can be flexible." ... Outside linebacker Albert McClellan intercepted a dropped pass by Jones, returning it for a touchdown. .... Taylor threw a bomb to former University of Maryland wide receiver LaQuan Williams for a 50-yard touchdown, displaying a lot of arm strength.



Michael Oher: 'Playing left tackle is no big deal'

Michael Oher has moved several yards sideways to his left, a relatively short journey that returns him back to his roots: protecting the blind side of the quarterback.

It's a natural move for the Baltimore Ravens' offensive tackle given his background immortalized in a best-selling novel and popular movie about his life: "The Blind Side." Now, the defending AFC North champions are shifting Oher back to where he started two years ago for them, where he was an All-American at Ole Miss and as a blue-chip high school recruit after being adopted by the wealthy, nurturing Tuohy family. That began his odyssey from a homeless teenager whose extremely rough childhood included his paternal father being murdered and his mother being addicted to crack cocaine. Oher overcame every obstacle to make it to the NFL.

Now, lining up Oher at left tackle is being done out of necessity at this time given the unexcused absence of left offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie due to personal issues that includes serious financial problems and perhaps a back ailment. It could wind up being a permanent move if the Ravens ultimately decide that McKinnie, who's on the reserve/did not report list and being fined $30,000 per day for not reporting to training camp under the NFL collective bargaining agreement, isn't going to be the answer on the left side.

"It's really no big deal," Oher said. "I got a lot of snaps at left tackle in the spring and right tackle. I played both my first year and second year, so it's no big deal. I'm a good enough athlete to play either way. So, it's no problem with me."

That's what the Ravens are banking on should the uncertain situation with McKinnie continue to go in the wrong direction.

Although Oher didn't excel at left tackle two seasons ago after replacing a bad-backed and unreliable Jared Gaither, the 6-foot-4, 315-pounder does appear to be an improved candidate for the left side.

Two years ago, Oher was extremely prone to penalties and had the occasional lapse in assignments. Most notably, Oher didn't pick up blitzing Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu in a key December loss. And he sacked quarterback Joe Flacco and forced him to fumble, leading to the Steelers' game-winning touchdown. The Ravens are confident that Oher is better prepared now to play left tackle.

"At left tackle, a lot," Ravens offensive line coach Andy Moeller said when asked about Oher's readiness in comparison to his last stint there. "He already has a year under his belt over there. He knows the personnel he is going against. His sets are more consistent on the left, and the great thing about Mike is if we have to come over here and he has to go back on the right side, you do it and it's no big deal for him. Michael Oher is a tremendous asset. He is a great, versatile football player, and you just line him up and let him go. He'll be fine on the left side. He'll be great."

Oher moved back to right tackle last season where he started every game and had arguably his top season since being drafted in the first round with the 23rd overall pick and signed to a five-year, $13.8 million contract that includes $7.8 million in guaranteed money. Working in tandem with Pro Bowl offensive guard Marshal Yanda, Oher seemed to find a comfort zone over on the right side.

Oher is clearly the Ravens' most athletic offensive lineman with a quick first step, fanning out to his left to wall off pass rushers. Lean and muscular with a lower body-fat percentage than most offensive linemen, Oher clearly has the physical tools to play left tackle.

"As quick as a lineman as we've got," Moeller said. "He can move, run, cut off, reach, physical at the point of attack, and Michael, really, when you think about it, since he has gone from right to left to right, to have the ability to go back to left, is versatile on both sides and can set and play left tackle. His experience has been great.

"Of course, the guys we have to block here on a daily basis, he gets great work on there. He just plugs in and goes to whatever side we put him on. He just plugs and goes. So as far as what he can work on, he can work on things that we all need to work on, pad level, consistency, both in the running and pass block, but that's no different than any of our guys up front. He's been great." For Oher, retracing his old footsteps at left tackle involves getting back to what he did in college and for several games in the NFL. Durable and tough having never missed a start, Oher is honing his skills for the subtleties of the position.

"Yeah, it's just muscle memory and things like that," said Oher, who's under contract through the 2013 season and due an $865,000 base salary this year. "It's the same footwork, but it's just like going from left hand to right hand. It just takes repetition to get your technique back down, and it shouldn't be a problem."

The bottom line for Oher is his first steps will be to his left instead of his right. It's a rare tackle that can play both sides. "It's challenging in that your footwork is the opposite of what it is," Moeller said. "We all know it's the blind side of the quarterback on the left side, but he is really fluid on both sides and really moving to his right or to his left and his right to left in the stance. "It's easier for him than most, really more so than anybody I can think that I've ever coached. So, for him it is. The assignments aren't so hard. It's just flipped over right. How to do it and the technique setting and particularly the pass-rushers you will get on the left side is different."

Besides getting acclimated to his old position again, Oher also is getting accustomed to playing with veteran left offensive guard Bobbie Williams. That's not difficult considering Williams' expertise heading into his 13th NFL season.

" Bobbie is a great guy, man," Oher said. "He communicates great. He's been around. He's a veteran, he's a great player. I like being on the side of him. He's physical and things like that, so I think he's a great addition to the team. I'm looking forward to playing with him this year." What's going to be different and extremely challenging for Oher is contending with the superior pass rushers that populate the right side of defensive front sevens around the NFL and dot the Ravens' schedule.

If Oher stays at left tackle, he'll likely be assigned to block Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Trent Cole, Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali, Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith and outside linebacker Brooks Reed, Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison, Washington Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orakpo and New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. It won't be easy since this Murderer's Row of pass rushers combined for 89 1/2 sacks.

"Yeah, it's different guys, but nowadays, you've got great pass rushers on each side of the ball," Oher said. "So, it really doesn't matter. You've just got to do your job."

Ravens Insider Top Stories