Michael Oher will see a familiar face on the opposing side of the line of scrimmage on Sunday night.
Outside linebacker Antwan Barnes was drafted by the Ravens in the fourth round in 2007 and spent three seasons before getting shipped to the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2010 preseason.
And when the Ravens visit the San Diego Chargers at Snapdragon Stadium for Sunday's prime-time showdown, Barnes is expected to line up opposite the Ravens' right tackle.
Oher smiled when asked about his memories of tangling with Barnes in practice when Oher was a rookie in 2009.
"He's a competitor, I'm a competitor," Oher said. "We used to joke about beating each other. We had a lot of good matches together."
Barnes has fared well for San Diego, which picked him up after Philadelphia released him. Barnes has collected 11.5 sacks in less than two full seasons with the Chargers, including a team-leading seven this year.
Barnes has thrived in a role carved by former Maryland star Shawne Merriman.
"It doesn't surprise or bother me when I hear people call me just a pass rusher," Barnes told The San Diego Union-Tribune early last week. "I think it's a good thing. I pattern myself after LT [former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor]. I feel like I'm a rare breed. Nowadays, you don't have too many guys in the position I play. Pass rushing's my thing."
Oher said Barnes' strengths are his speed and quick hands.
"He's a speedster, an up-the-field guy," Oher said. "You've just got to play your fundamentals and technique and match his intensity. … He has a couple moves. He does some different things that he does pretty well. He's playing pretty well right now."
Oher has had his share of ups and downs this season. He has allowed 5.5 sacks and committed seven penalties, but he hasn't been flagged since Nov. 20 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Oher seems to have found a comfort level at right tackle compared with 2010, when he led the offensive line in penalties (11) and sacks allowed (seven) as the left tackle. But Oher said he's still making the transition to the right side of the line.
"It's not like riding a bike at all," he said. "I played left tackle the whole time. So I had to get back to getting used to it. I'm still not totally used to it. I'm still getting better every day. I'm trying to find the right groove. It's just a lot of hard work, and I'm continuing to try to work on fundamentals and technique to do it right."
Oher and Barnes worked out together in the offseason in Miami and are good friends. Oher said he texted Barnes but declined to elaborate on their conversation.
So does Sunday's matchup favor Barnes, who might know his friend's tendencies?
"If you want to look at it that way, you can," Chargers coach Norv Turner said. "You can look at it the other way and say Oher has an advantage because he knows Barnes. It just depends on what side you're on. I hope it gives Antwan an advantage."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun