- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 16, 2015

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) - While many of his Baltimore Ravens teammates stagger to the finish of a lost season, Kelechi Osemele is mounting a salary drive for 2016.

If Osemele can excel at left tackle in place of the injured Eugene Monroe over the next three weeks, the Ravens (4-9) might have one less position to fill during a busy offseason.

Now in the final year of a $3.345 million contract he signed as a rookie in 2012, Osemele has spent most of his NFL career at left guard. He’s certainly due for a raise next year, and the increase would likely be even more substantial if he proves to be an effective protector of the quarterback’s blind side.

“If other teams see I’m versatile enough to play different positions, that’s cool,” the 6-foot-5, 330-pound Osemele said Wednesday. “But right now it’s just about doing whatever I can to fill in for all the injuries we have.”

Osemele played left tackle at Iowa State and earned a Super Bowl ring with Baltimore as a rookie right tackle. He was moved to left guard out of necessity in 2013 and remained there until last week, when Monroe was placed on injured reserve. Now that Osemele is back at left tackle, he intends to stay there.

“It’s fun and it’s challenging. It gets me working on my game, and there’s something different every day,” he said.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh never had any doubt that Osemele could handle left tackle, a position generally deemed to be the most important - and most difficult - on the offensive line.

“You felt like he could be a left tackle, but we were in a situation where we had left tackles that weren’t going to any other position,” Harbaugh said. “I guess it’s a credit to K.O. that he could play other positions. He could probably play any position on the line, except center, maybe.”

After hesitating a moment, Harbaugh added, “He could play center.”

Moving from left guard to left tackle involves more than just shifting one notch down the line. It requires a different kind of blocking technique, and a whole lot more film study.

As a guard, Osemele focused mostly on stopping a bull rush. At left tackle, he knows his opponent of capable of doing almost anything.

“Things happen a lot faster on the inside, so you don’t really have to watch much film. It’s a different story outside on the edge because you’re more on an island,” Osemele said.

“There are a variety of moves that guys can give you to get to the quarterback. It’s a lot more film study - not just here, but when you’re home before you go to bed.”

This week, he’s checking out the moves of Kansas City linebacker Tamba Hali.

“A really great player,” Osemele said. “It’s a great opportunity to kind of sharpen your skills. It’s going to be good. Looking forward to the challenge.”

The greatest left tackle in the history of the Ravens, Hall of Fame member Jonathan Ogden, went by J.O. Now there’s K.O.

“There was never a doubt that he could be a good left tackle,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t think he ever doubted that, either. Now we’ll find out how good.”

Notes: QB Matt Schaub (chest) saw limited action at practice. If he’s inactive against KC (8-5), Jimmy Clausen will start and newcomer Ryan Mallett will be the backup. … Joe Flacco was in the locker room, about a week after undergoing surgery to repair two torn ligaments in his left knee. The knee was swollen and he was limping, but walked without aid of a cane or crutches.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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