Since his arrival in the NFL as a first-round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars six years ago, Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe has experienced plenty of success from an individual standpoint.
What's eluded Monroe, though, is an opportunity to play in the postseason. One of his best chances was last season, after the Ravens acquired him from Jacksonville in a trade. The Ravens finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the first time in six seasons, thanks to a loss in the final game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"We have six games ahead of us with a solid chance to control our destiny in terms of a potential postseason," Monroe said. "We're just grinding towards that. I'm excited about the opportunity. I've had chances to make it two times in my career and ended up losing the last game we needed to make it, once being here last year and another season early in my career in Jacksonville. It's customary to make the playoffs here. The opportunity is here. It's up to us to make it happen."
This has been a difficult season for Monroe. He missed four games after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, returning against the Bengals on Oct. 26. Since then, Monroe has been trying to regain his old form. He had a rough game against Pittsburgh Steelers veteran outside linebacker James Harrison during a 43-23 loss at Heinz Field, but he says his knee is feeling better.
"I'm doing well," said Monroe, who signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract in the offseason. "I started off strong, but I got hurt. That was a tough period. I'm coming back, getting back into the groove of everything now."
Monroe's challenge Monday night against will be blocking New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordan, who has five sacks this season and finished last season with 12.5.
"Talented group, definitely across the board, so it's a little challenge ahead of us," Monroe said. "I think the plan is in place. We're practicing what we need to, working on the things we believe allow us to be successful. It's going to come down to us traveling well, handling all the things that come with playing on the road and being the most physical team on the field."