Nearly healthy, Harewood ready to compete for starting right tackle job

While he’s currently stuck on the Physically Unable to Perform list as he works back from knee surgery, offensive tackle Ramon Harewood says he expects to return to the practice field within the next few days.

And once he does, Harewood is ready to throw his hat into the competition for the Ravens’ starting right tackle job.

“You hear ‘right tackle battle’ and you hear Oniel Cousins and Jah Reid, and my name is nowhere to be found,” Harewood said with a smile. “So, it’s a little bit hard, but I take it in stride. I’ll be out there sometime next week, hopefully, and we’ll see where it goes from there.”

Harewood, the Ravens’ sixth-round pick in 2010, impressed the coaching staff during training camp last year, but had to spend all of last season on Injured Reserve after having both knees cleaned out. The 6-foot-6, 340-lb. lineman says the knees have been progressing recently, and after seeing a doctor yesterday, he hopes to be cleared to participate sometime shortly.

“There’s no pain in there, just a little bit of soreness,” Harewood said. “Hopefully they’ll clear me to practice Monday or Tuesday. I think I’m ready, it’s just the soreness is something you have to get used to after the surgery. It’s going to be sore, you just have to learn to play through it. You’ve got to know if it’s good sore or bad sore.”

Harewood admits that last year, in an effort to make a positive impression, he might have pushed things too hard. He battled through pain in his knees during training camp, and kept participating in practices when he wasn’t feeling 100 percent.

That’s why, while he feels strong now, he’s willing to listen to the training staff when they tell him to take things slowly in his rehab.

“I don’t want to make the same mistake,” Harewood said. “My knee was pounding (last year), and I just kept pounding, pounding, pounding. You live and you learn, though.”

One of the surprises of 2010 training camp as a rookie, Harewood showed that, when healthy, he has the size, strength and athleticism to possibly become a key contributor on the Ravens’ offensive line. Born and raised in the Barbados, Harewood manhandled proven pass rushers in training camp drills despite only playing football since his freshman year at Morehouse College.

He was impressive enough that I distinctly remember running back Ray Rice walking through the locker room at one point late in the regular season last year and telling reporters that Harewood would be his starting right tackle in 2011.

The knees have derailed that plan so far, and the Ravens selecting Reid in the third-round of this year’s draft has provided another hurdle for Harewood to overcome in order to get on the field. The fact that Reid and Cousins have been getting all the reps at right tackle this camp also appears to leave Harewood behind the eight-ball as he looks to compete for playing time.

Still, Harewood says he’s looking to build on what he learned while around the team last year, and he hopes that he can make a positive impression once he is able to get back to practice.

“I can tell you, for one thing, I’m not as lost in the meetings as I was last year,” Harewood said. “I would say I pretty much understand most of what we put in. This time last year, I was struggling. So, in terms of me knowing the plays, it’s been a vast improvement.

“I’m just ready to get out and compete.”

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