Rookie Kelechi Osemele said that he found out that he’d be playing right tackle the day before Thursday’s preseason finale against the St. Louis Rams so he had little time to consider who he’d be lining up against.
But it took just one Chris Long bull rush for Osemele to realize that he would be tested by the Rams’ defensive end.
“He was way stronger than I thought he was going to be,” said Osemele, the Ravens’ second-round pick out of Iowa State who started all four preseason games, two at right tackle and two at left guard. “That was really fun.”
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Playing the entire first half, Osemele held his own, keeping Long, the second overall pick in the 2008 draft who had 13 sacks last year, away from quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Long did get some penetration on two running plays, stopping rookie Bernard Pierce for a loss each time.
“I felt like I did pretty good and had some really strong plays in there,” Osemele said.”On some pass plays, I had some really good plays against him. I felt good about that but there were some plays where I could have been stronger in the pocket. I’ll look at that and see how I can improve as far as my technique goes. I can’t wait to see the film and try to get better and improve off of it.”
Coach John Harbaugh also wanted to watch the film before he evaluated Osemele’s performance but his initial impression was that the rookie held up “pretty well,” and the experience of facing one of the game’s better pass rushers will serve him well.
He also acknowledged that Osemele is still “in the mix” to start. However, it appears more likely that Osemele would start at left guard ahead of Bobbie Williams than at one of the tackle spots.
“I actually didn’t really know I’d be playing tackle until the day before so that gives me a good game scenario if someone goes down or someone gets injured,” Osemele said. “I was kind of plugged in there. I felt good having that experience from that aspect and it just felt good to go against a player like [Long].”