Even though he has played through pain, never complains about getting his position changed every season and is widely respected in the locker room, Michael Oher has been much maligned during his Ravens career.
He might not be a top NFL offensive tackle, but we got a glimpse of how valuable he is in Thursday night’s loss.
After Oher helped seal the right edge on Ray Rice’s second-quarter touchdown run, the right tackle got rolled into by right guard Marshal Yanda and left the game with a sprained ankle. He did not return. A source told my colleague Aaron Wilson that the injury is not serious, but Oher’s status for Sunday’s home opener is unclear.
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Rookie Rick Wagner replaced Oher at right tackle Thursday night, and he got an education from outside linebacker Shaun Phillips and the Denver Broncos in the 49-27 loss. In two and a half quarters, Wagner got beat for three of Denver's four sacks and allowed four other hurries, according to Pro Football Focus. Oher had allowed just one quarterback hit.
The Ravens also had little success when running to the right. Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce got 12 carries to the right side of the line, picking up just 16 yards and that touchdown by Rice.
Maybe that would have been different with Oher in there for the full game. Maybe not. But we saw Thursday night that the Ravens might be in trouble if they have to play without Oher for an extended period of time. Quality depth could be a concern.
Oher probably isn’t best suited to play left tackle, as evidenced by the fact that only two tackles allowed more sacks a season ago than the 10 he did, according to Pro Football Focus. But he can be an above-average right tackle in the NFL. And when the Ravens team him up with Yanda on the right side, that’s a lot of nastiness for a defense to tango with.
Wagner showed improvement during training camp and Jah Reid, who was inactive Thursday night, is a serviceable backup. But the Ravens have to be hoping Oher heals quickly.