Oher proving to be a quick study

OWINGS MILLS -- The prototype rookie offensive tackle has a nasty streak at the line of scrimmage to go along with a weightlifter's physique, eye-popping athleticism and the wingspan of a condor. Michael Oher is a man of few words.

The Baltimore Ravens' prize first-round draft pick applies his trademark intensity and energy toward mauling opposing pass rushers with a strong hand punch delivered with the force of a heavyweight boxer. The 6-foot-5, 309-pounder combines that power with surprising agility and speed for a man of his dimensions.

For the Ravens, the relatively stony silence of the consensus All-American blocker from Ole Miss speaks volumes on the field.

"He is very quiet, but I think he has the attitude of a serial killer in a good way," four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Trevor Pryce said. "He has a quiet intensity about him, and it doesn't seem like he has much body fat.

"That is pretty much the most impressive thing. It's like, ‘Wow, look at this guy.' He looks like Julius Peppers. He is going to be something."

Beyond Oher's uncommon build for an offensive lineman, including a fairly sculpted midsection instead of the jelly belly most blockers are carrying around, his zest for preparation and the void created by veteran Willie Anderson's retirement have positioned him for a rare opportunity.

Oher is intent on immediately winning a starting job at right offensive tackle.

"Mentally, I feel like I'm ready," Oher said. "But you've always got to do work physically. The physical workout is always the part that gets you ready for game day. I've got to do all the things I need to do to get better to get ready to start.

"I think the transition is going pretty well. I'm a hard worker, so I know that I'm going to get myself prepared to be a good player in the league."

And the Ravens had Oher take virtually every first-team repetition during minicamps. That was partially through necessity with Adam Terry sidelined following arthroscopic knee surgery.

The Ravens have no intentions of simply handing Oher a job. If he proves that he's the best right tackle option, and so far that seems to be the case, then he'll square off against the Kansas City Chiefs in the season-opener.

"I know I'm going to work hard and I know I'm going to do my best to learn everything, and I'm going to compete," Oher said. "That's all I know is competing. I'm definitely going to have to earn my job and come to play every day."

The early reviews have been stellar so far, but the true tests of Oher's mettle have yet to come. The bull-rushes, speed-rushes, swim moves and spin moves are on the immediate horizon.

"Obviously, there are a couple of other guys who are interested in that starting spot, so Michael is going to have to win the spot," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He just hungers and thirsts for work. I mean the guy loves football, he's in here morning, noon and night. He studies tape, he does a lot of extra work, so he's going to have a chance to compete for that job."

Perhaps more than anything, Oher's grinding approach portends well for future success.

He constantly quizzes older players for advice. He's serious about his workout regimen. And he's conscientious about studying the playbook and maintaining a nutritious diet.

"Just positive," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said of Oher. "He was prepared. He's probably one of the first rookies I've seen in a while that came in and for the most part knew the installs ahead of time.

"He got ahead of the game, and I think he's going to try to stay ahead of the game. And I like that."

There's a lot to appreciate about Oher, beginning with his remarkable life story.

Oher grew up homeless as the son of a mother addicted to crack cocaine and a father who was a stranger.

In and out of foster homes as a teenager, Oher was eventually adopted by Sean and Leigh Ann Tuohy. They embraced him with love and a spirit for education.

Ultimately, Oher matured into a blue-chip recruit who thrived in the ultra-competitive Southeastern Conference. Now, the Ravens envision him as a cornerstone bookend opposite promising left tackle Jared Gaither.

"He's a special kid with a great story, a great player," Ravens director of player personnel Eric DeCosta said following the draft. "We think he helps us big time."

Oher's ability will be severely tested, though, by a demanding schedule dotted with several elite defensive players. That includes pending future encounters with Shawne Merriman, Richard Seymour, Jared Allen, Dwight Freeney and James Harrison.

Whomever is placed in front of him, Oher vows to be ready.

"I have the same mindset for every pass rusher," Oher said. "My plan is to put myself in the best situation to win every single one-on-one play. It doesn't matter who the defender is. I try to bring my 'A' game every snap.

"I'm trying to be relentless, be physical, get my job done, do everything I need to be a Raven. I know if I do that, I'll be prepared."


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