Ravens general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome's opening statement:
"At about, I don't know, 11 o'clock last night, Jimmy [Sexton] and Pat [Moriarty] completed an agreement in principle on the contract for Michael Oher. It was a tough negotiation in the sense that, as you all know, there were not a lot of first-round picks to be signed, and that we have that early preseason game, we come into camp early, so a lot of the deals were not done. But, to the credit of Pat and Jimmy, they were able to work their way through to where it's a fair deal for the Ravens and a fair deal for Michael. As we said on the day of the draft, we traded up to get him for a reason, and nothing that we've seen since that day through the mini-camps and the OTAs and the first day of practice today has changed our mind. We even feel better about it with the status of the offensive tackles on our football team since that point. On another note, since we all have summer readings, my summer reading was 'The Blind Side [:Evolution of a Game],' so I think I know Michael a little bit more now than I did before the draft. Michael…"
Ravens rookie T Michael Oher's opening statement:
"I let Jimmy do all the work, my agent, and I was disappointed that I couldn't show up the first day when the rookies reported. I felt like I let my team down. But I put all my trust in my agent, and he steered me in the right direction. I'm pleased to be here today, and I'm still excited. I'm very excited that the Ravens decided to pick me. I feel like I have to give it my all, and I'm glad we came to an agreement."
What is it like for you emotionally, coming where you're coming from, to be where you are now with your contract?
(OHER) "It's very special. You have to forget where you came from. You have to move forward and continue to work hard and just put all your trust in the right people, come to practice and play every day."
With so few first-round picks having signed, I'm guessing the slotting a lot of people were worried about wasn't an issue?
(NEWSOME) "It was an issue, but I think in that you've got a veteran guy like Jimmy Sexton, and a veteran guy like Pat, that have been in the wars and have dealt with first-round picks at the top of the draft, at the bottom of the draft. I think they were able to step outside of the box a little bit and project what the slot would be. Most importantly, when we try to do a deal, then we try to do what we would consider a 'Raven deal.' And what we felt like we got with Michael Oher was a 'Raven deal.'"
How relieved are you that all of this is over?
(OHER) "I am very relieved that I am in camp with my teammates, and being able to practice, having all of that stuff behind me. All I can do now is play football, work hard and give back to [the Ravens], because they've given to me."
So, you don't have to go through this for five years now?
(OHER) "That's a long time. So, all I've got to do is play football now. I'm happy."
Is part of the pressure knowing that it looks like they've got you sliding in at right tackle, ready to start help protecting Joe Flacco, just as far as getting the deal done?
(OHER) "I'm the type of guy… I don't want to let my teammates down. I want to be there with them and go through everything they're going through. I would just tell them to hurry up and get me in camp."
(From teammate LB Terrell Suggs, who was standing by): You had a good first practice. What should we expect for the rest of this training camp? Are you going to be able to keep up with the playbook and all of that?
(OHER) "I feel like I'm in pretty good shape. I'm a hard worker. If I continue to listen to my coach, I'm pretty sure that he'll prepare me for every practice."
Your Dad said that you run in 100-degree heat in the middle of the day. Do you feel like the heat there will condition you for Maryland heat?
(OHER) "The heat shocked me today. (laughter) I didn't know it was going to be this hot. I worked out in the sun in Mississippi. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be ready to go. I feel like I'm well-conditioned."
Ozzie, what does this say about Michael that he wants to be here? He didn't want to let his teammates down and he made sure this thing got done.
(NEWSOME) "Well, those are some of the intangibles, some of the things about Michael Oher that attracted us to him in the draft. Not only is he a hard worker, not only is he a good team player, he feels a responsibility to his teammates. Those are some of the things our scouts talked about when we were doing our readings preparing for the draft. Then, when we had the opportunity for Michael to come to Baltimore, those things came out. So, I'm not surprised he is saying those things because that's what other people have said about him."
Was does it feel like to have full confidence in an early investment with Oher?
(NEWSOME) "When you look at positions on the team, you look at getting players. You know, we sat here a year ago saying that we've drafted a quarterback and hopefully we don't have to deal with that. Now that we have Michael [Oher] and Jared [Gaither] and Oniel Cousins, and we have Adam Terry, then maybe the offensive tackle spot is taken care of. And every time we get something nailed down – and I'm sure there's always something else to look for – but getting one thing nailed down has allowed you to concentrate on others."
How good can this offensive line become?
(NEWSOME) "The confidence that I have with these guys, No. 1, is I think it starts with Matt Birk. To have an experienced guy like that, the technician that he is, the guy that will be able to direct the traffic on the offensive line, I think is huge. They have a guy in the room that they can look to and say, 'If this is a seven- or eight-time Pro Bowler, and this is the way he works, then I want to be like him.' But to have him out there on Sundays, so that those guys can have confidence that, hey, if he says we're going to slide this way or slide that way, they have a lot of confidence. So, I think it starts there, but then you look at the youth and the athleticism of Jared, Ben [Grubbs], Chris [Chester], [Marshal] Yanda and Michael, and then the other guys that we have, Joe Reitz, the guys that are fighting their way back from surgeries and such, Adam Terry. You need depth. You have to have depth in this league to be able to play a 16-game season and hopefully get into the playoffs, and I think we have that. The thing I am most confident about is John Matsko and Andy Moeller. And, I have been in this business for as long as I have, having been coached by some really good offensive line coaches – Howard Mudd comes to my mind – is to watch those two guys work with these guys, develop these guys and get these guys ready to play. I don't think any other team has two better offensive line coaches than we do."
What did you do for the first couple of days you missed at the beginning of camp?
*(OHER) *"I just continued to run, work out and just prepare myself for camp."