Rookie tackle, Ravens sing Allen's praises

The Ravens could have rookie tackle Michael Oher facing Jared Allen, but no matter who is squaring off with Allen, the Ravens have a lot of respect for what the defensive end has done so far this season.

Rookie Michael Oher looked strong in his first start, holding Cincinnati's top passer rusher Antwan Odom to no sacks.

This week, the challenge will get tougher.

Oher, who is expected to start again in place of the injured Jared Gaither, will line up against Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen. Through five weeks of the regular season, Allen has become the front-runner for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

"There are guys that are sort of like him, but there's nobody with a higher motor," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Jared Allen just brings it every single play.

"He's explosive, he's physical, he's got spin moves, he's got hump moves, he's got every kind of move that you could think of. Really what makes him so good is his relentlessness as a pass rusher and a run defender. We respect him a lot."

Since being acquired in a trade from the Kansas City Chiefs for a first-round draft pick and two third-round draft picks, Allen has emerged as the scourge of the league when it comes to harassing quarterbacks. Now, Allen is the Ravens' big problem to deal with as they'll do everything they can to try to contain him during Sunday's matchup at the Metrodome.

Regardless of whether Oher squares off with Allen as the Ravens' starting left offensive tackle or if Gaither somehow recovers in time for kickoff, the Ravens definitely have a tough assignment.

"He's a highlight reel," Oher said. "He has every move. You have to study everything he does."

Allen absolutely dismantled the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago with 4.5 sacks. He sacked and stripped Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in tandem with Brian Robison, registering three solo sacks and a coverage sack on his own despite chip-blocking assistance and Green Bay designing rollouts to avoid his presence.

"He's a great player, the best I've ever seen personally," Oher said. "You have to get after him and just stay with your fundamental technique. You have to play very fast.

"He's a tough guy, he's a fast guy. He's very physical. I've seen everything from him. He's very athletic and he has a motor."

The Vikings value Allen so highly that they signed him to a six-year, $72.3 million contract. Allen rewarded that faith by recording 14.5 sacks last season.

This year, the 27-year-old already has 6.5 sacks and three forced fumbles with one safety.

"He's obviously had a really good season," said Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, the chief target of Allen's pursuit Sunday. "He's played well for a while now, so we're going to go into the game and we're going to have specific plans for their defense.

"They have a bunch of guys on their front seven that can get after it and we're going to be accounting for every one of them."

Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is quite familiar with Allen. When Cameron had the same role for the San Diego Chargers, he used to game plan against Allen twice a season when he was a pass rusher for the Kansas City Chiefs.

"Indoors on turf is even more of a challenge than outdoors in Kansas City, when we played him there," Cameron said. "He is one of those high-motor guys that is just a great player, end of story. He loves to play the game."

NOTES

  • OT Jared Gaither missed his second straight day of practice with a neck injury. Gaither can't move his head side to side. If Gaither is sidelined, rookie first-round pick Michael Oher goes from right to left tackle.

  • OT Michael Oher is expected to move from right to left tackle if Jared Gaither is sidelined with a neck injury for a second straight week. Oher played left tackle at the University of Mississippi.

  • OLB Jarret Johnson was limited in practice after not practicing Wednesday. He has been dealing with the same shoulder injury for the past three weeks. He has yet to miss a game because of that injury.

  • DT Haloti Ngata was limited in practice Thursday after not practicing Wednesday. He has been dealing with the same back injury for a second straight week. Ngata will start.

  • TE Edgar Jones was limited in practice for a second straight week with a hamstring injury. He is expected to be the team's No. 3 tight end Sunday.

  • WR David Tyree was added to the injury report Thursday with a hamstring injury. He is expected to play special teams on Sunday.



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