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Michael Oher at left tackle is 'very key' to Panthers' success

Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There’s a reason why my Twitter feed is filled messages about LSU offensive tackle La’el Collins and any potential interest from the Carolina Panthers.

Michael Oher.

If you were convinced that Oher, the focus of the 2009 movie “The Blind Side,’’ was the answer at left tackle, then you probably wouldn’t have as much interest in Collins.

Even Carolina coach Ron Rivera says Oher is key to the makeup of the roster on offense.

“He’s very key,’’ Rivera said after the draft. “We didn’t bring him in -- and [general manager] Dave [Gettleman] wanted to make sure he signed a two-year deal -- just to have him here and let him go.

“Michael’s shown up and come in here and worked very hard. He’s done a great job. I get the reports and look at the reports and look at what he’s done. Everything he’s done is telling us he wants to do the things he’s done in the past.’’

Oher started 16 games at left tackle when the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl during the 2012 season. He struggled the past couple of seasons, so much in 2014 in Tennessee that he was released in February.

The Panthers signed Oher to a two-year, $7 million deal with a $2.5 million signing bonus. They proclaimed he would be the left tackle, replacing Byron Bell, who went to Tennessee after Carolina didn’t re-sign him.

“We’re excited about who Michael Oher is for us,’’ Rivera said. “We’re excited about the guys that we have in that room. We think it’s a very good room and really believe it’s a positive for us as we go forward.”

Yet, there remains uncertainty.

Thus the messages about Collins, who went undrafted when it became public that police wanted to speak with him regarding the death of a woman believed to be his former girlfriend.

Police have said Collins is not a suspect and many NFL teams already are showing an interest in a player who was projected as a first-round draft pick. Carolina guard Trai Turner, a friend and former LSU teammate of Collins, wrote on Twitter that he was doing his best to recruit Collins.

It’s likely no team will sign Collins until the investigation is complete and Collins is shown to be completely in the clear.

Carolina seems like a natural fit because of questions surrounding Oher as adequate to protect quarterback Cam Newton’s blind side.

Again, it all comes back to Oher.