Two months ago, Ravens rookie offensive tackle Michael Oher(notes) was knocking guys around in the preseason and getting acclimated to the NFL life. Today, he'll start on the left side for the first time in his NFL career, and he'll face the NFL's co-leader in sacks. However, if there's one thing we know about Oher, the subject of Michael Lewis' rags-to-riches story "The Blind Side", it's that he's no ordinary rookie.
Left tackle Jared Gaither(notes) is out this week with a neck injury, and Oher will move from right tackle to left to deal with Cincinnati end Antwan Odom(notes), who's tied with Denver's Elvis Dumervil(notes) for the most sacks in the league with eight. The Bengals will need a balanced attack against the Ravens, and if they win, they'll have the AFC North lead and a 4-1 record. On the other side of the ball, the Ravens are featuring the pass more than expected, and they'll hope to stretch the Bengals defense without being penalized with quarterback pressure. This Oher-Odom matchup could be the key to the whole thing.
At Ole Miss, Oher did play left tackle, and he was rated by several experts as the top college prospect at his position. The Ravens moved him to the right side to augment their power running game with Oher's own sometimes dominant blocking. Taking on Odom will be a switch -- Oher will have to stop as many speed moves as bull rushes. Expect Baltimore's offense to have a tight end or running back to chip the left side if necessary, but they have to be able to rely on Oher if they want to put their entire offense on the field.
We'll review the Oher-Odom matchup tonight.