The Ravens placed starting left tackle Eugene Monroe on injured reserve Saturday, a move that ends his disappointing season and could end his time with the team.
They also promoted quarterback Bryn Renner and wide receiver Chris Matthews from the practice squad, and waived rookie guard Kaleb Johnson.
Renner's promotion is the latest indication that the Ravens will go with Jimmy Clausen at quarterback Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks at M&T Bank Stadium. The team hasn't officially ruled out Matt Schaub, the starter after Joe Flacco went down with a season-ending left knee injury. However, barring a late development, he's not expected to play against the Seahawks as he deals with chest and shoulder injuries.
Monroe, who has been sidelined with myriad injuries over the past two seasons, started just six games this year, and dating to last season, he has started and finished just three of the Ravens' past 16 games. Monroe finishing the season on IR will mean that he won't have started for 17 of the team's 34 games since signing a five-year, $37.5 million in March 2014.
The Ravens now have a league-high 17 players on injured reserve, including five offensive players who started the regular-season opener against the Denver Broncos.
Monroe's absence has been especially frustrating for the Ravens, who thought that they had solidified their left-tackle spot when they traded two draft picks to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Monroe in October 2013, and then signed him to an extension following the season.
He has played reasonably well, but he hasn't been able to stay healthy, a stark contrast to his time with the Jaguars when he played in at least 15 games in each of his first four seasons.
Monroe, 28, missed five regular-season games last year and then was inactive for the AFC wild-card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers with an ankle injury. A week later in the AFC divisional round matchup versus the New England Patriots, he was active but didn't play any offensive snaps as the Ravens used undrafted rookie James Hurst at left tackle and normal guard Marshal Yanda at right tackle.
This season started with Monroe sustaining a concussion on the Ravens' first drive of the season against the Broncos. He missed three consecutive games and then returned before hurting his shoulder in a Week 7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
That injury caused him to miss just one week, but his return was short-lived. Monroe exited the game against the St. Louis Rams on Nov. 22 with recurring shoulder issues. After he went out, Hurst, his replacement, was pushed back into Flacco's left knee. Flacco sustained a season-ending ACL and MCL tear in the collision.
Hurst has started six games in Monroe's place, and has been overmatched at times after playing pretty well at times during his rookie year. Ravens coach John Harbaugh acknowledged Monday that it has been a "real challenge" with Monroe gone.
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It's premature to say that the Ravens will cut Monroe, as such a move would create $6.6 million in "dead money" on the team's salary cap. However, the Ravens surely will need to address the position this offseason. Monroe's injuries have made it impossible for them to count on him going forward and Hurst's struggles have made it clear that he's not the long-term answer at the position.
The Ravens will have to bring in a left tackle either in the draft or through free agency.
Renner, an undrafted rookie who joined the Ravens practice squad Wednesday, will back up Clausen with Schaub expected to be inactive. Schaub didn't practice all week, and while he has thrown some on his own, he could be vulnerable to further injury because of his sore chest and shoulder.
Renner, 25, was cut by the Ravens before the season after he opened some eyes during training camp. He completed 43 of 65 passes for 409 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions, and he also ran for a score.
Matthews, 26, had just four catches for 54 yards in nine games with the Seahawks when they released him on Nov. 17. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday that it was a "competition decision," while Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson called Matthews a "tremendous football player."
The Ravens added the 6-foot-5, 218-pound receiver to the practice squad on Nov. 23, and Harbaugh has praised his work in practice.
Matthews is best known for his breakthrough performance in the Seahawks' February loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX. Not only did he make his first career catch in the game, he finished with four receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown.