(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)
Head coach John Harbaugh confirmed what had been considered all but a certainty throughout the week as newly-acquired left tackle Eugene Monroe will not only make his Ravens debut against the Green Bay Packers but will also start.
With more than a week of preparation under his belt after being acquired in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Monroe will replace veteran Bryant McKinnie as the starting left tackle on Sunday. The 26-year-old Monroe has put in long hours at the team’s Owings Mills facility getting caught up to speed with run-game coordinator Juan Castillo and offensive line coach Andy Moeller about the Ravens’ blocking schemes.
“He did a heck of a job this week. He looks good,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I would anticipate that he’ll play quite a bit — possibly start. You might even say probably start at this point — that would be my anticipation right now. Unless something changes between now and then, he’ll be the starter at left tackle.”
Selected with the eighth overall pick of the 2009 draft, Monroe had spent his entire career with the Jaguars before he was traded the Baltimore in exchange for two third-day picks in next year’s draft. He won a total of 22 games in five years with Jacksonville, making it understandable for the University of Virginia product to feel energized in joining the defending Super Bowl champions.
However, Monroe tempered that excitement over his debut on Friday in explaining his need to be on the same page with his new offensive line mates.
“I approach game day the same way I do every week regardless of the situation,” Monroe said. “Excitement’s not an emotion that necessarily helps you perform as far as precision. I’ll need to be precise this week and be on top of my game since everything is brand-new. I am excited, but I’ll be focused.”
Meanwhile, McKinnie revealed to reporters he has been dealing with swelling in his knee and even had it drained recently to ease some of the discomfort.
Harbaugh acknowledged giving McKinnie some rest this week while Monroe received more extensive work with the offensive line, but the veteran took the high road in saying he’ll continue to do his part despite speculation that he could be traded after losing his starting position. It remains unclear whether the Ravens would be willing to weaken their new-found offensive line depth by trading McKinnie.
“Bryant has had a very good week as well,” Harbaugh said. “We didn’t practice him Wednesday just for soreness from the game and things like that, but he’s practiced the rest of the time and he looks good.”
Reports on McClain favorable
Though Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain isn’t eligible to begin practicing until next week as he is currently on the reserve physically unable to perform list, Harbaugh confirmed reports earlier in the week painting an improved medical outlook for the sixth-year defensive player.
McClain sustained a spinal cord contusion last December and hasn’t played since then in waiting for magnetic resonance imaging to show improvement to the point that he can return to football. The Ravens have expressed confidence all along that the inside linebacker would eventually be cleared.
“I think it was reported that he was cleared, and there is some truth to that,” Harbaugh said. “The back specialists have looked at his most recent MRIs, and it’s very favorable. I’m not in position to sit here and say completely 100 percent — I don’t know that. There is a process still involved, but it’s encouraging to say the least. It’s all positive that way.”
Upon McClain’s expected return to the practice field — no starting date has yet been determined — the Ravens would have a 21-day window before they must return him to the 53-man roster, waive him, or place him on season-ending injured reserve.
Harbaugh proud of chest bump fail
Harbaugh gained notoriety earlier in the week for his attempted chest bump that was inadvertently denied by safety James Ihedigbo in last Sunday’s win over the Miami Dolphins.
The 51-year-old coach presented the clip to his players and showed a strong sense of humor when asked about it on Friday.
“I was kind of proud of the video,” said Harbaugh, drawing laughs from reporters in Owings Mills. “There was some good air between my feet and the ground there, absolutely. Then I played it off a little bit. I kind of turned and gave a little fist pump.”