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'Pro Bowl Or Bust' For Kelechi Osemele


It was the second week of Ravens offseason voluntary practices when Head Coach John Harbaugh and Run Game Coordinator Juan Castillo approached second-year lineman Kelechi Osemele.

"They told me personally that my goal this season should be Pro Bowl or bust," Osemele said. "It's the expectation that they have for me."

The Ravens had a Pro Bowl left guard in Ben Grubbs, but he departed via free agency to New Orleans before last season. Now Osemele has a chance to be the long-term solution.

Osemele started every game during his rookie year. He spent the entire regular season at tackle, and moved to left guard for the playoffs.

That's when he found his niche.

A couple weeks after the Super Bowl, Osemele got a call from Castillo, who was marveling at the playoffs tape he was reviewing. Osemele dominated.

"It came to me quite easily," Osemele said. "I'll only get better from here, so I really feel good about this being a breakout year."

Last year's second-round pick played left tackle throughout college at Iowa State. He moved to right tackle in the NFL, which worked well considering his sheer power.

But Osemele was happiest when Bryant McKinnie was inserted at left tackle, bumping Michael Oher to right tackle and moving him inside. Osemele is glad McKinnie was re-signed.

Playing guard gives Osemele an advantage because of his combination of explosiveness, strength and long arms. He generally can get his hands on opponents faster than a usual guard.

"It's a natural fit for me," Osemele said.

"From an experience standpoint, I definitely think I can take my game to another level. As I get more games, I'll just continue to get better."

Osemele has been a constant presence at the Under Armour Performance Center. He was one of the first players back in the building, running and lifting. He said Strength & Conditioning Coach Bob Rogucki has followed him around the weight room.

The 6-foot-5, 333-pounder said he feels a lot stronger, faster, quicker, more flexible and durable already this offseason. He's come a long way from a year ago when he was a rookie trying to adjust to the NFL. "The coaches have been on my [butt]," Osemele said with a laugh. "They just expect a lot from me and they're not going to accept anything but my best. They're definitely pushing me, which is what I like."

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