Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe went through an extensive individual workout directed by offensive line coach Juan Castillo on Wednesday.
After participating on a limited basis as he works his way back from an ankle injury, Monroe proclaimed that he had made major progress and sounded upbeat about his chances of playing in Saturday night's AFC divisional round playoff game against the New England Patriots. Whether Monroe will actually play Saturday remains to be determined, but it appears that his chances of doing so are improving.
"Making some pretty good progress," Monroe said. "It's definitely positive. I feel like time is on our side. The game isn't until Saturday midday. I'm taking it day by day and seeing how this thing ends up. Very optimistic, but it's a tricky little deal. We'll see how it plays out. Today was a major step."
Monroe has missed the Ravens' past two games due to the ankle injury, sidelining him for a regular-season finale against the Cleveland Browns and a 30-17 AFC wild-card win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last Saturday. He was replaced in the starting lineup by undrafted rookie James Hurst, who allowed six quarterback hurries against the Steelers.
"Yeah, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing scary," Monroe said when asked to describe the nature of the injury. "It's just taking a little bit of time. Even from [Tuesday], I was able to do a lot that I couldn't do. So, it's definitely positive. It brings a little more optimism."
Meanwhile, rookie defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (foot, ankle) participated fully. Tight end Owen Daniels and middle linebacker Daryl Smith were given their usual day off.
For the Patriots, running back LeGarrette Blount (illness), wide receiver Julian Edelman (concussion), running back Jonas Gray (ankle) and wide receiver Brandon LaFell (shoulder, toe) were limited. Quarterback Tom Brady (ankle) participated fully.
Monroe said it's a balancing act between wanting to play and also needing to be mobile enough to play at an optimal level.
"I'm not going to press too much," Monroe said. "If I'm not ready, I'm not. I'm doing everything in my power to be back."
Monroe said he's not surprised that rookie linemen Hurst and John Urschel have held up so far.
"Those guys stepped in earlier in the season and did a good job, too," Monroe said. "I was confident they would go out there and do well and they did. I'm definitely proud of those guys."
Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak discussed the scenario of Monroe returning against the Patriots.
"You get his experience back," Kubiak said. "That's the biggest thing, but we'll see how it goes. He practiced, and we'll see how he holds up. We have a lot of confidence in James and John. When they've played for our football team, good things have happened.
"It hasn't been too big for them. We have a lot of confidence moving forward. Hopefully, Eugene is there and that's a problem that we have. So, we'll see what happens."