Ravens still confident in Oher at left tackle

Maybe it was because he had put together such an impressive rookie season.

Maybe it was in some way related to all the "Blind Side" hype.

For whatever reason, we all expected Michael Oher to have a dominant 2010 season as the Ravens' starting left tackle.

That didn't happen. Oher didn't perform poorly, but he did struggle at times. Penalties were an issue - Oher was flagged for eight false starts this season - and he had problems when matched up against speed rushers, who often left Oher looking half a step slow.

As a result, some have wondered whether the Ravens would consider moving Oher back to right tackle, where he spent the majority of his rookie season. The Ravens' brass say that where Oher lines up in 2011 will depend on what they're able to add through free agency and the draft, but they contend that their 2009 first-round pick could still evolve into a premier left tackle.

"I think Michael Oher can be a left tackle in this league for a long time," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "Up until we find someone that's better, he'll be our left tackle.

"I think he did some good things there [this year], but if you talk to Michael, he'll probably say he could play a lot better. Having a year under his belt, knowing some of the people he'll have to play against year in and year out at that position, he'll be a better player there. He did a good job, he can do a lot better."

The Ravens had a solid offensive line in 2009 with Oher at right tackle and Jared Gaither at left tackle, but Oher played so well in his rookie campaign that the team decided to line him up on the left side entering this season, and they moved Gaither to right tackle.

Of course, we all know Gaither got injured, didn't play a snap all year, and the Ravens had to shuffle things up on the line. They were never able to find the chemistry that they had in '09, and the offense as a whole suffered.

If the Ravens are able to secure a dominant left tackle at the right price this offseason, they won't hesitate to do so. They'll slide Oher back to the right side, and will try and get the O-line playing at the level that it was a season ago.

But if that situation doesn't present itself, Ravens coaches and members of the front office still have complete faith that Oher can lock down the left tackle position for years to come.

"Oh yeah he can do it," head coach John Harbaugh said. "I think Michael Oher can play either tackle. What side Mike winds up playing depends on who else is in the mix.

"I think he had a very good second year. I think the sky's the limit for Michael. He's only going to get better. He really wants to get better. I still think he's a homerun."

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