CHARLOTTE – The Panthers have signed free agent Michael Oher, a veteran offensive tackle with a Super Bowl ring and familiarity with the way Carolina likes to do things up front.
The 6-4, 315-pound Oher, a staple along the Baltimore Ravens offensive line for five seasons, signed a two-year contract. He spent 2014 with the Tennessee Titans and was released/failed physical last month.
"I'm excited to be joining an organization that knows how to win. They've won the past two division championships, and I'm excited to be a part of it," Oher said. "When I came here on a visit, the culture was great. They're very into winning and doing everything possible to win."
Selected with the 23rd overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Ravens, Oher played his first two seasons under the tutelage John Matkso, who left Baltimore following the 2010 campaign to become Carolina's offensive line coach.
"We look forward to having Michael be a part of what we are building here," head coach Ron Rivera said. "He's a pro who understands what it takes to win. A big part of why we pursued Michael was his relationship with offensive line coach John Matsko and the opportunity to have him work with (assistant offensive line coach) Ray Brown. We are excited to have him."
Oher said Matsko's influence on his game extended beyond his first two seasons, and he is looking forward to again learning from the veteran of 23 NFL seasons.
"He's a great coach," Oher said. "I learned a lot from him my first two years when he was in Baltimore, and the assistant that was with him in Baltimore carried his techniques on for a couple of more years. I'm excited to be back with him, working with him again. He knows how to teach football."
Oher made the NFL's all-rookie team in 2009 and started the first 80 games of his career through 2013, with 43 starts at right tackle and 37 starts at left tackle. After splitting time between the two spots as a rookie, Oher started every game at left tackle in 2010 and 2012 and every game at right tackle in 2011 and 2013. In 2012, he helped the Ravens to a victory in Super Bowl XLVII after they set a franchise record for points scored in the regular season.
Oher joined the Titans as an unrestricted free agent last March. He started the first 11 games at right tackle before a toe injury ended his streak of 91 consecutive starts. After Oher sat out one game and was inactive for one, the Titans placed him on injured reserve.
"I'm great now, back doing everything full speed," he said. "It was something that had bothered me every year in the NFL. While lining up in my stance, sometimes I would feel it. It was something I had needed to get taken care of. I finally got it done and I can see the results from it already."
Oher's rags-to-riches rise from a difficult childhood to a first-round NFL draft pick was chronicled in "The Blind Side," an Oscar-winning movie released in 2009.
"It's a great story that inspired a lot of people," Oher said. "Offensive linemen usually don't get that type of attention and I've never sought that out, but it's something I'm trying to embrace.
"It's been a tough road, but it made me the person I am today, made me mentally tough and able to embrace adversity and get through tough times while not taking anything for granted."