As Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe began the process of recovering from shoulder surgery this month, teammate Kelechi Osemele moved into his left tackle spot, and the conversation immediately turned to whether he was a long-term solution at the position for the team.
Monroe, however, has three years left on a five-year, $37.5 million contract, and said the outside talk that he might not return or will be replaced is "not something I'm concerned with at all.
"I'm focused on getting healthy and getting back to ball," Monroe said. "This is, unfortunately, the second time I've gone through this shoulder deal. I sort of know what to expect in terms of my rehab process, but I'm fully confident that I'll be healthy and back on the field."
Monroe, who missed all but the first drive of the season-opener against the Denver Broncos after he suffered a concussion and then missed the ensuing three games, began dealing with his shoulder injury in the second half of a Week 7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
He missed one game with the injury, then returned after the bye to start against Jacksonville and St. Louis before the injury forced him out of the St. Louis game. He went on injured reserve on Dec. 5 and had surgery to repair his torn labrum shortly thereafter.
The health issues of the past few years — he also missed four games early in 2014 with a knee injury, and missed the last regular season game and both playoff games with an ankle injury — are new for Monroe, who was a picture of durability with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Ravens for the first five years of his career.
He enters the offseason not focused on the injuries that kept him off the field, but noticing how he improved while on it. Coach John Harbaugh said he was playing some of his best football before the shoulder injury kept him out for the year.
"Honestly, frustration isn't going to do me any good. No one likes to be hurt and not on the field, but it is what it is. I've had some things happen that were just unfortunate, but make sure I continue to work my [butt] off and continue to get better.
"I think looking at my film, I've had some time to look at my game and how I improved from the year before and I made major strides. I played some really good ball, and I'm looking to build off of that."