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Jah Reid hopes to earn spot as Ravens' guard

Jah Reid has only been a professional football player for about a year now, but he knows that a lot could change in the NFL in the span of a couple of weeks.

The Ravens could use their 29th overall draft pick in next Thursday's first round on a guard or they could just as easily sign one of the available free agents at the position. Reid, however, isn't spending a whole lot of time thinking about either scenario. He's too busy trying to earn the position for himself.

"I have to go in and expect to play," Reid said [Thursday] after a voluntary workout. "I want this position and it's mine to lose. Just have to keep working. I don't have to worry about anybody else. I just have to focus on myself."

After Pro Bowl left guard Ben Grubbs signed with New Orleans during the first week of free agency and the Ravens couldn't woo Evan Mathis to Baltimore, team officials were consistent in saying that they were comfortable with Reid, a third-round pick last year out of Central Florida, moving into that position.

Such pronouncements raised some eyebrows because Reid played sparingly in his rookie season and he is also a natural tackle. However, Ravens right tackle Michael Oher feels that Reid is physical and talented enough to make a relatively smooth transition.

"He gives 150 percent effort," said Oher. "I'm looking for him to get in and make an impact. He's a very physical player. I'm looking for him to have a pretty good year at guard. I think he'll do well."

Reid, who is 6-foot-7 and 335 pounds, said he played a little guard during college, but he got more exposure to the position during practices last season. He feels that his biggest adjustment will be with his footwork. Other than that, he doesn't foresee the change being problematic.

"On the offensive line, you can't be one-dimensional. You have to play more than one position. I'd like to think I'm well-rounded, " he said. "Playing mostly right, I have to work a little bit on my left, but playing next to Matt Birk and [Bryant] McKinnie, that's not going to be that bad. I just have to go out there and work and get better every day … I think I can play the position well and I look forward to doing that."

Oher feeling better

Oher revealed following the AFC championship game loss to the New England Patriots that he had sustained a slightly torn meniscus in his right knee in the previous week's victory over the Houston Texans.

The injury, which did not require surgery, lingered into the offseason. However, Oher, who is taking part in voluntary workouts, says that he is feeling much better and he'll be ready for the various offseason training activities.

"It's just now starting to feel good," Oher said of his knee. "I did a lot of rehab and things like that. It's starting to feel good getting ready for OTAs and things like that."

Kruger ready to fill Johnson's role

For three years, Paul Kruger watched Jarret Johnson do the dirty work: setting the edge, sacrificing his body and sometimes chasing down quarterbacks. All the while, Kruger's position and responsibilities shifted. But now that Johnson has signed with the San Diego Chargers, vacating his starting outside linebacker spot, Kruger is comfortable, confident and prepared to get filthy in the trenches, too, like his "great mentor and friend" did for nine seasons.

"It's a great opportunity," he said. "I couldn't ask to be in a better situation. So I'm going to be grinding as much as I can from here until August to prepare myself for camp as much as possible. I'm real excited."

Kruger, 26, shined at times as a situational pass rusher in 2011, recording a career-high 5.5 sacks in the regular season and adding another in the AFC championship game. He mostly played in obvious passing situations, with Johnson manning the strong side on first and second downs. He's now the front runner in a competition with Albert McClellan for Johnson's starting spot, but he must first prove he can be that every-down player.

After splitting time at linebacker and defensive end in his first three seasons, Kruger, a 2009 second-round pick, said that knowing where he is playing and what is expected of him "makes all the difference in the world."

"It's been tough — I think a great learning experience — to kind of bounce around," Kruger said. "But at the same time, it's pretty exciting to have a solidified spot that they know they're putting you into to take it over."

Webb still hoping for returns

The Ravens might be in the market for a return specialist in this year's draft, but cornerback Lardarius Webb, who signed a five-year, $50 million extension earlier this month, would love to remain the team's full-time punt returner. Webb averaged 10 yards per punt return last season and returned a punt for a touchdown.

But if that isn't in the team's plans, Webb feels he has earned the right to return punts whenever the team needs a big play.

"Just like Ed Reed, he earned that spot to where any time he felt like he wanted to return a punt, he can go back there and just take it," Webb said. "I think I might have that now."

Webb said he hopes to make a name for himself on both defense and special teams like one flamboyant former Ravens cornerback.

"That's what made Deion Sanders so great, because he was returning kicks and returning punts and returning interceptions to the house," Webb said. "So that's what made him Deion Sanders, so that might make me Lardarius Webb."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com and matt.vensel@baltsun.com

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