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Don't count out Gaither

Ozzie Newsome was a font of information during an hour-long Town Hall teleconference with Ravens' season-ticket holders Wednesday night. He was more revealing with fans than he has been with media about the direction the team is headed going into 2011.

He said his priorities in free agency once the labor situation is finally resolved are a pass rusher, a backup quarterback behind Joe Flacco, and a fullback.

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By omission, that means offensive line is not a target area. And it further supports the team's statements that third-round draft pick Jah Reid will get a shot at starting at right tackle this summer.

But Newsome also didn't rule out Jared Gaither returning -- and starting -- in the offensive line. Depending on what rules the next collective bargaining agreement follows -- four years to free agency or six -- it is possible Gaither might have to return.

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Gaither has spent four years in the NFL. It that is the line at which players can become unrestricted free agents, he will be gone. But if the new structure puts the line at six years, Gaither will be a restricted free agent and therefore remain the property of the Ravens.

"If we operate under the 2010 rules," Newsome told some 6,500 season ticket-holders, "we would still have Jared Gaither. ... He'd get a chance to come back and start also," in addition to Reid.

The Ravens traded up in the third round to get Reid, from Central Florida. His arrival would keep Michael Oher at left tackle. Newsome is confident Oher will be able to handle the position better than he did last year, his first season at the position.

"I feel after him getting one year under his belt, he will take the next step," Newsome said. "He'll be able to do a very good job at that position."

As for Reid, Newsome gave this scouting report:

"We traded up to get Jah. Looking at the board, there was no one else we were really excited about. We wanted to make sure we got him. ... Two things: his size and his arm length. That's very important for a tackle. The other thing, he is a very good knee-bender, so that will allow him to be a very good run-blocking. We hope he can come in and compete right away to be a starter for us."


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