Oher not panicking over his start

Notebook: Ravens LT adjusting to new role

Knee injury won't keep J.McClain from playing

August 26, 2010|By Edward Lee | The Baltimore Sun

Panic is nowhere in Michael Oher's vocabulary.

The offensive tackle who was the subject of the film "The Blind Side" and was widely regarded as one of the NFL's best rookies in 2009 is still adjusting to his new role as a left tackle for the Ravens.

Oher has capably played more than two dozen snaps thus far in two preseason games, but observers and the media tend to single out the sack he surrendered to Carolina Panthers defensive end Tyler Brayton in the preseason opener and his false start that negated a first-down conversion Saturday night against the Washington Redskins.

Oher conceded that there's room for improvement.

"I've got a ton to work on," he said. "But I think I'm making progress every day. I've just to keep working."

Moving to the left side from the right might seem simple enough, but the footwork and blocking schemes are different. Also, the caliber of pass rushers is usually higher on the left side of the offensive line.

Oher said he is still getting comfortable with his new position.

"You've got to get used to it," he said. "You've got to get the game speed down. You've just got to do a lot of adjusting, and it takes a lot of film study and practicing that."

There's pressure on Oher to replace the injured Jared Gaither at left tackle and protect the blind side of right-handed quarterback Joe Flacco. But Oher shrugged off the burden.

"You've just got to keep doing what you're doing and keep working to get better and keep up the progress," he said. "You've just got to do what you practice and keep playing football."

McClain intends to play Saturday

Despite having his left knee taped and wrapped, and walking carefully to practice Thursday, Jameel McClain said he does not plan to miss Saturday night's preseason contest against the New York Giants.

"I don't think so at all," said the linebacker, who declined to get into the specifics of the injury except to say that it was "a little swollen."

"You never know with these types of things," he said. "But for me, it felt good [to avoid practicing too strenuously]. It was really just a precautionary type thing."

McClain has started at inside linebacker in both of the team's preseason games. If McClain can't play Saturday, Dannell Ellerbe or Tavares Gooden would be in line to start.

Ellerbe doesn't expect McClain to miss the game, saying, "He should be playing."

Koch remains unchallenged

Training camp is normally a time when veterans get pushed by rookies and younger players. That can't be said, however, for Sam Koch, who is enjoying his second consecutive preseason without a competing punter.

The lack of a competitor might indicate the organization's confidence in Koch, who was the team's sixth-round pick in 2006.

Entering his sixth season, Koch ranks as the franchise leader with a 43.8-yard career punting average. His 110 career punts inside opponents' 20-yard line are second to Kyle Richardson's 128.

In the preseason, Koch has averaged 45.4 yards on 12 punts and has landed five inside the 20.

"It's good," Koch said of his start. "I've been making progress since the offseason. I still continue to work on the fine details that I need to before the first regular-season game and just continue to get better."

Pitta powers passing game

Nine days after failing to catch a single pass in the team's preseason opener against the Panthers, Dennis Pitta led the offense with four catches for 65 yards in the 23-3 win over the Redskins.

Three of the rookie tight end's receptions -- a 24-yarder from quarterback Marc Bulger in the third quarter, a 22-yarder from Troy Smith in the fourth quarter and a 15-yarder from Smith in the fourth -- ranked among the eight longest plays from scrimmage.

"Here's a guy that probably got a little fatigued during training camp and didn't quite jump as much as he did in that game, and all of a sudden here, he's making plays all over the place," coach John Harbaugh said. "We feel like he's going to be a really good player."

Harbaugh: No comment on expansion

Linebacker Ray Lewis and most of his teammates are against the NFL's proposal to expand the regular season to 18 games.

Harbaugh declined to get into the debate -- at least publicly.

Asked Wednesday whether he had spoken to owner Steve Bisciotti about the expanded season, Harbaugh simply said, "Yes."

Asked whether he cared to share his thoughts on the potential move, he replied: "No, not at this time. But I think it's a good debate, and we all have our opinions on it."

End zone

Offensive tackles Gaither (disk in back) and Oniel Cousins (concussion), guards David Hale (bruised tailbone) and Daniel Sanders (left shoulder), rookie nose tackle Terrence Cody (swelling in left knee), wide receiver Demetrius Williams (sprained right ankle) and safety Marcus Paschal (right leg) did not practice. Â Defensive tackle Brandon McKinney (swelling in right knee) returned after missing the previous two days. Wide receiver Eron Riley did not take part in individual or positional drills because he is dealing with a strained back, but he said he expects to be available Saturday night.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

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