When the Ravens traded for Eugene Monroe two months ago, the belief was that he would immediately upgrade the left tackle position and the hope was that he would become one of the team's best linemen.
It was a rough start for Monroe. He allowed a sack against the Green Bay Packers in his first start at left tackle, according to Pro Football Focus, and was beaten for four in his first five games here, including two in the Week 11 loss to the Chicago Bears. Coach John Harbaugh publicly said he could play better.
He has over the past two weeks, allowing no sacks and just two quarterback pressures in a pair of wins.
How reliable has Monroe been recently? Quarterback Joe Flacco said that he is "as comfortable as can be" with Monroe protecting his blindside, a fine compliment.
"Any time you can switch teams midseason, come in and pretty much get in there right away, I think that's awesome," Flacco said Wednesday. "And I think he's been getting more and more comfortable."
Of course, Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen will be looking to make both of them very uncomfortable Sunday. Allen has racked up 123 sacks in 10 seasons in the NFL and has seven double-digit seasons. He has just six sacks this season, but the 31-year-old has still been a handful for left tackles like Monroe.
Allen didn't exactly give a glowing endorsement of Monroe, despite his improved play of late, during a conference call with Baltimore reporters on Wednesday.
"He's got decent feet. From the film I've seen of him, he's playing alright," Allen said, mentioning that is tough to evaluate Monroe's tape with the Jacksonville Jaguars, "From what I can remember playing him last year, he's an athletic guy, pretty decent feet and ability to recover. It's going to be a tough test for us."
I'm sure Allen would admit that at the very least Monroe this season has been a significant upgrade over Bryant McKinnie in both run blocking and pass protection.
Two months after the Ravens made the surprising trade to acquire him from the Jaguars, Monroe has become one of their best and most consistent linemen. His future in Baltimore beyond this season is up in the air, but if he continues to play well -- and keep Flacco's comfort level high -- the Ravens should try to keep him around.