Blaine Gabbert probably already figured that he would face a lot of heat when the rookie quarterback leads the Jacksonville Jaguars against the Ravens Monday night.
But Gabbert’s evening might be foretold depending on the availability of offensive tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton.
Monroe, the left tackle, sat out Jacksonville’s 17-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers with a shoulder injury. Britton, the right tackle, also missed Sunday’s contest due to a recurring back ailment.
Monroe was upgraded to full participation Friday after being limited Thursday. Britton has not practiced in the last two days. If Britton is unable to suit up, Guy Whimper could start at right tackle.
The Jaguars’ issues at offensive tackle have not gone unnoticed by the Ravens.
“Yeah, they have been rolling around a lot of guys,” outside linebacker Jarret Johnson. “But you have to prepare for their best. You’ve got to expect all of their best players to play, and then we’ll just take it how it comes. But it doesn’t adjust our game plan or anything like that.”
Fellow outside linebacker Terrell Suggs agreed with Johnson that Jacksonville’s concerns at tackle would not play into the Ravens’ favor.
“It never does,” Suggs said. “You would think so, but this is the NFL, and they’re going to prepare. So we’ve got to see how it pans out on Monday night.”
Johnson said injuries to starting offensive linemen actually makes the week of preparation a little more difficult because defensive players are then required to study film of the backups, which might involve digging around and finding game tape from the preseason.
“When guys are hurt or beat up, you’ve really got to study more,” he said. “You’ve got to look at their second-string guys. You’ve got to go back and look at other games, even preseason games when they played, to know that ok, this guy might not be in there, so who is his backup? Then you’ve got to go study the backup.”
Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio conceded that the return of Monroe, a first-round pick in 2009 who has made 32 career starts, could stabilize an offensive line that has started six different players and undergone some upheaval in shifting players to different positions.
“Well, you know, our offensive line has been decent,” Del Rio said. “We’ve played a lot of different guys. [Rookie] Cameron Bradfield got his first start last week [at left tackle] and actually played pretty well against Pittsburgh. You know, Eben and Eugene both have missed some time to start this season for various things. And we’d like to have them both back, but until they are, we’ll do the best we can to put a unit out there and expect them to play well for us.”