Oher sees bright future protecting the Blind Side
WESTMINSTER, Md. (AP)
This year, his primary concern will be to protect the blind side of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.
Oher has been working at left tackle during training camp after lining up on both sides of Baltimore's offensive line during his first NFL season.
''He's looked great, he really has,'' Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday. ''His body, the work he's done, you can see it when he comes out here. He's moving really well. When a guy is here every single day throughout the offseason, getting all that work and all those reps, it shows.''
Oher's rise from the streets of Memphis was documented in Michael Lewis' 2006 book, ''The Blind Side,'' which became a hit movie in 2009 starring Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy, who adopted the homeless teenager into her family.
The job of the left tackle is to protect the blind side of the quarterback. Oher started five games at that position last season, moving from the right side to replace injured tackle Jared Gaither.
Oher is now atop the depth chart at left tackle. But he's also been practicing on the right side because Gaither has missed a portion of camp because of cramps and lost too much weight (nearly 30 pounds) during the offseason.
''Basically I'm just playing football, trying to be comfortable on both sides,'' Oher said. ''When the season gets here, I'll be prepared for everything.''
Everything, perhaps, except talking about the book and the movie. Oher seems relieved to be past that.
''I'm just here to play football,'' he said. ''I just want to be the best player I can be. I'm here to work every day and play in the NFL as long as possible and be great at what I do.''
He got off to a great start last year, starting all 16 games and twice in the postseason after being drafted 23rd overall in the first round of the 2009 draft.
Left tackle, right tackle, it doesn't matter to Oher, who excelled at both as a rookie.
''These guys took a chance on me and drafted me. I'm going to do what they tell me to do and play football,'' Oher said. ''I love the game and have much respect for it.''
Moving from one side to the other requires more than merely lining up in a different spot in the huddle. Learning both positions means spending extra time studying the playbook and altering blocking technique.
''You get used to one position and have to go do something else, it's a big difference,'' Oher said. ''Say you have a basketball player who's right-handed and he's got to go play the game left-handed. It takes time to get used to it. Everything's just backward. You have switch your mind and keep working.''
Ravens center Matt Birk is confident Oher can handle the challenge.
''Mike can play anywhere. He works hard on fundamentals, he wants to do everything perfect,'' Birk said. ''But at the end of the day, the guy is just a football player. Anywhere on our line I like him. He's a great player and a great guy.''