Oher, Kruger Talks Progressing

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With less than two weeks until the Ravens' rookies must report to Westminster, Md., for training camp, there are still two among the Class of 2009 without contracts.

But, the Ravens are confident that both first-round draft pick Michael Oher and Paul Kruger, a second-rounder, will be signed and ready to begin on time.

After successfully inking four rookies among a group of six draftees, only Oher and Kruger remain – and the clock is winding down if the Ravens want to avoid a holdout.

Holdouts have been a rarity for Baltimore in recent years, however.

Under the direction of general manager Ozzie Newsome and vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty, the Ravens have a strong recent history of getting everyone signed before camp starts.

"While a lot of us have been on vacation, Pat's been here working," said Eric DeCosta, who was promoted to director of player personnel this offseason. "He has a long tradition of getting these deals done. He's fair, but firm. I think he'll get a deal done that is a good fit for the player and for the Ravens."

The Ravens have signed all their draft picks in each of the past two seasons. Haloti Ngata was the last player to hold out, but that was only for one day in 2006.

It would be surprising if Oher and Kruger hold out for any length of training camp. Both players have repeatedly stated their desire to be with their fellow rookies on July 27, along with selected veterans coming off injuries.

"I'm not the type of guy for a holdout," Oher has stated. "I love football and want to keep getting better as fast as I can. That starts with training camp.

"I'm going to leave it up to [my agent], but I don't want it to get too out of hand. I want to be there to play from the start."

Oher's presence is critical for a young offensive line and quarterback Joe Flacco. The Ole Miss product manned the starting right tackle position throughout offseason minicamps and figures to continue to play with the first string, teaming with left tackle Jared Gaither, 23, to form the NFL's youngest tandem of bookends.

"Michael's been great," Flacco said in an interview with ESPN. "He's a great athlete and is a big guy. It's awesome for me because we've got some young guys on this offensive line, and he's one of them. I hope we can keep these guys around for a while and I'll be set for the rest of my career."

Kruger, meanwhile, could have a more prominent role in training camp if the Ravens cannot come to an agreement with outside linebacker/defensive end Terrell Suggs on a long-term contract before Wednesday at 4 p.m.

If not, the franchised Suggs could skip all of training camp, creating a starting spot for Kruger – at least in practice.

Both sides of the rookie negotiations are evidently eager to get the contracts completed before next Monday, which would signal a three-year run for the Ravens inking all of their draft picks in time for opening day.

"It will say a lot if they are here," DeCosta noted. "The proof is in the pudding. Get the deal done and be here. That's what we want to see. I'm confident we'll have players that are ready to play when training camp starts."

Currently, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and New York Jets signal caller Mark Sanchez are the only two first-round picks to have signed contracts. Cornerback Darius Butler of the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy are the only two from the second round with completed deals.  

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