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Kelechi Osemele Comfortable At Left Tackle, But Hopes Bryant McKinnie Returns

Posted Apr 23, 2013

Kelechi Osemele started 38 games at left tackle in college and could make the transition.

Head Coach John Harbaugh told the media that if the season started now, Kelechi Osemele would be the Ravens’ starting left tackle.

That’s fine with Osemele, but he’s still hoping for last year’s Super Bowl lineup.

While Osemele didn’t take any snaps at left tackle last year, even in practice, he said, he started 38 games there in college at Iowa State. He’s fine making the transition if needed.

“I would be very comfortable,” Osemele said. “As far as the footwork goes – having played it my whole college career and starting every game at that position – I think I’d be fairly comfortable with that switch.”

Osemele also expressed that his preference is to stay at guard. That’s where he finished last year after starting the season at right tackle.

When Bryant McKinnie was inserted at left tackle for the start of the playoffs, Michael Oher bumped to right tackle and Osemele went to left guard, replacing the injured Jah Reid.

The offensive line gelled, keeping quarterback Joe Flacco upright for the most part in the playoffs. He was sacked six times in four games. The Ravens averaged 31 points per game through the postseason.

McKinnie is now an unrestricted free agent still on the market, and Osemele is hoping he returns, which would likely mean the second-year player would return to guard.

“I’d love to have him back here,” Osemele said. “He’s a great asset to our team, he’s a powerful weapon to have, especially with the both of us on the same side. If we could repeat that, that would be good. But I trust Ozzie and those guys, they know what they’re doing.”

The 6-foot-5, 329-pound Osemele said he felt like the move to guard fit him well. His broad shoulders and base give him plenty of power, and his knee bend provides leverage. Osemele is known as a mauler, so it suits him well to be in more of a confined space inside.

“I felt like it was pretty natural, just with the build of my body and everything like that,” Osemele said. “I felt like it was a smooth transition and a natural move for me.”

Osemele was listed at 333 pounds last year, but has shed four pounds since then, which could help with his quickness to slide off the snap if he is called on at tackle.

Running back Ray Rice said he would trust Osemele at left tackle because he has already shown his versatility and intelligence in moving from tackle to guard.

“When you’re moving a guy around the way you’ve moved K.O., for him not to have MAs [missed assignments] and mess ups, that’s the thing that really impresses, I guess, the coaches and myself,” Rice said. “If [Osemele at left tackle] was the case right now, I’ll be comfortable with that.”

With the draft approaching and free agency still open, it’s a fluid situation. Osemele said he wouldn’t need to know if he’s going to play left tackle by the time training camp rolls around.

“It doesn’t really matter when I know, as long as I get a few snaps at it, I think I’ll be alright,” he said.

“This is a professional business, so you have to be able to change and adapt. It would be good to have that same lineup, but things change and you have to be able to adapt.”

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