SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Carolina Panthers left tackle Michael Oher laughed when he recalled a play from last season.
The play itself wasn’t necessarily funny. It was that right tackle Mike Remmers, while the team was watching a replay on film, shouted “47 Gap!” before the snap to quarterback Cam Newton.
“We were running the exact same play from the movie, where the [back] pulled around and went 50 yards down the field,” said Oher, still laughing.
The movie was “The Blind Side,” a 2009 film starring Sandra Bullock playing the role of Leigh Anne Tuohy, who adopted a homeless teenager that went on to become a first-round draft pick in the NFL.
The teenager was Oher, who in the movie blocked the defensive end out the back of the end zone after telling the quarterback to call “47 Gap,” and then drew a penalty for what the official called “excessive blocking.”
There was a time before Oher arrived at Carolina last season that he didn’t like to talk about the movie because he didn’t believe it accurately depicted his personality. He didn’t care for the impressions people formed of him from it.
He went so far as to tell ESPN.com in June 2014, “I don’t like the movie.”
Now Oher embraces it when teammates, mostly his offensive linemen, joke about the movie. He laughs when center Ryan Kalil sends a message alert to the linemen every time the movie comes on television.
Oher’s career has been resurrected in Carolina. He’s back protecting the quarterback’s blind side after spending several years at right tackle.
He did well enough last season that Newton threw a career-best 35 touchdown passes and won the NFL MVP award.
“He may not look pretty half the time, but most offensive linemen don’t look pretty,” Carolina coach Ron Rivera said with a laugh. “But he’s going to get the job done.”
Oher’s greatest asset is that he’s never satisfied. He’s always trying to prove himself, and nobody on the line works harder.
That he’s surrounded by players and coaches that think like him makes Carolina a good fit.
“I’ve been around guys that were not good people,” Oher said. “You’ve got to know who you’re bringing in and do your homework on it, and they do a good job on it.”
Oher admittedly will go into Thursday’s game with somewhat of a chip on his shoulder. While he looks forward to seeing a few old friends, he wants to send a message to the organization that didn’t re-sign him after the 2013 season.
“Definitely you want to show them, ‘Hey, look at what you guys missed out on,'” Oher said.
Carolina players don’t miss a chance at ragging Oher about “The Blind Side.” None do that more than Remmers, who likes the movie so much that he wouldn’t give Oher No. 74 — the number that the actor playing Oher wore in the movie — when the Panthers first signed Oher.
Oher settled on 73.
Oher has become as comfortable with the new number as he has with jokes about the movie. That’s why he laughs when recalling “47 Gap” and the funny messages he gets when the movie is on television.
As far as he knows, it hasn’t been on during training camp.
“I don’t even have a TV,” said Oher, who didn’t bring a TV to camp. “But before we got here it was on all the time.”
Fantasy football may favor the running backs, quarterback and wide receivers, but that doesn’t mean tight end is something you can sleep on. While you can survive with an average fantasy tight end, having a good or even great one may end up being the difference in winning your league.
The word “sleeper” can be used in just about every facet of fantasy football, but tight end is an area where it can be more beneficial than other positions. That’s because this is usually where only a handful of reliable prospects can be drafted, followed by a bunch of risky guys with high upside, then your guys who may score 7-10 points each week, but will never have a game-changing performance.
If you can’t land someone like Rob Gronkowski, Greg Olsen or Jordan Reed early in your draft, it may be best to wait until the later rounds to find a sleeper who could emerge into a TE1.
Here are three players who qualify as sleepers this season.
Zach Miller, Chicago Bears
For whatever reason, people are sleeping big time on Zach Miller entering this season. Despite reviving his career in 2015 after injuries appeared to have derailed it, Miller is still being taken towards the end of fantasy drafts.
This, despite Miller catching 31 passes for 404 yards and five scores over his final eight games in 2015. That includes an average of six grabs for 70.3 yards over his final three games, making him a valuable PPR option.
Miller’s history of injuries and being 31 years old do make him a risky commodity, not to mention someone you probably should target as your second tight end. However, if he can stay healthy, Miller should become a tight end worthy of starting most weeks, depending on who your TE1 is.