Eugene Monroe joined the Ravens last October as reinforcement for an offensive line that was equal parts injured and ineffective. Now that he’s settled in Baltimore, the offensive tackle has begun to jel with the new-look offensive line and look towards a strong 2014 season.
“It’s definitely a good situation to be here the entire offseason, knowing who you’re going to play with and getting better together,” Monroe said Wednesday. “It has been fun. I’ve been enjoying it.”
The Ravens acquired Monroe from Jacksonville for a fourth- and fifth-round pick last season, and signed him to a five-year, $37.5 million contract extension shortly after free agency opened in March.
The sixth-year tackle will be part of an offensive line that, along with Kelechi Osemele back at left guard after back surgery last year, the recently acquired Jeremy Zuttah at center, and second-year tackle Rick Wagner getting first-team reps at right tackle, will look very different from last year’s frustrating unit. Only Osemele and right guard Marshall Yanda remain as starters from the Super Bowl-winning team.
Monroe said they wouldn’t be dwelling on the performance that led to last year’s 26th-ranked offense.
“Honestly, what happened last year doesn’t matter,” Monroe said. “It’s a new year, everyone has the same opportunity to make a statement.”
The line will aim to make a statement in its second year under offensive line coach Juan Castillo, and first under offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. Monroe said the new zone blocking scheme is similar to what he’s run in the past, and as an athletic lineman, he feels he’ll adequately be able to create holes wherever he’s asked. They can't get out into open space and block the way they would if the practices were full pads, but Monroe also sees an early difference in how he and his fellow linemen will be utilized under Kubiak.
“Last year, we were lining up in a lot of one-back stuff, a lot of empty stuff, tossing the ball out there, coming out throwing on first down,” Monroe said. “I don’t think that’s the history with Gary. I think he wants to run the ball a little bit, which would be fun.”
If they run behind the left side of the line, they’ll do it behind Monroe and Osemele, whom coach John Harbaugh singled out for their efforts this spring. Monroe believes that they’ll be able to run behind every part of the line by the time the season begins, which
“We’ve got to run the ball to win,” Monroe said. “That's what it comes down to. I believe that we’ll do a good job at that.”