Mike Preston: Practice observations and the real reason Ravens are trying to trade Eugene Monroe
By By Mike Preston
The Baltimore Sun|
Jun 15, 2016 | 7:39 AM
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh gives the reason why offensive lineman Eugene Monroe isn't practicing with the team. "My understanding right now is that teams are inquiring about Eugene," Harbaugh said. (Kevin Richardson)
I don't have a problem with the Ravens trying to trade veteran left offensive tackle Eugene Monroe. The move is inevitable.
Monroe can insinuate that the Ravens want to get rid of him because of his advocacy for the use of medical marijuana, but that's not the major reason. They no longer want him because he missed 17 of 34 games during the past 2 1/2 years, and had become one of the team's most-disgruntled players.
It's one thing when a head coach or members of the coaching staff question a player's work ethic, but it's really different when teammates start having the same thoughts.
Monroe has reached that point within the organization where head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome have to get him off the roster. If it wasn't a knee injury then it was an ankle injury. If it wasn't an ankle injury, then it was a shoulder injury.
The low point of Monroe's time in Baltimore was during his first season in 2014 when he didn't play in the divisional playoff game against New England because of an ankle injury even though he was active for the game. That's when questions about his toughness first started to surface.
Monroe is an athletic tackle, but he has problems with speed rushers, and he's far from overpowering. Once the Ravens drafted Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley in the first round in the 2016 draft, it was only a matter of time before the Ravens got rid of Monroe in one way or another.
It's the right decision for both parties, especially the Ravens.
Offensive linemen look like they're in shape
There were 16 offensive linemen on the practice fields Tuesday without Monroe, and it appears most of them are in good shape. Usually at this time of year, some of the biggest guys on the team look sloppy and overweight but not anyone in this group.
I always spend a lot of time watching offensive linemen and the rookie tackle and fourth round pick from Nebraska, Alex Lewis, just keeps sticking out. He has good technique and quick feet. I look forward to seeing him in live action in training camp.
The Ravens have six running backs on the roster and it will be hard separate them as far as talent level. They all appear to be in the same mold, and it would be nice to have a breakaway threat among the group.
Justin Forsett appears to be the starter but Terrance West has been impressive and looks fit. The RB with the quickest feet is Kenneth Dixon, the fourth round pick out of Louisiana Tech.
Once he becomes more familiar with the drills and offense, he is going to be interesting to watch.
It's hard to get a gauge on rookie outside linebackers Kamalei Correa and Victor Ochi as far as pass rushers because they aren't great players with outstanding talent, They are more effort guys.
We'll get better evaluations with the pads on because the Ravens appeared to sign or draft a lot of young players who will give extra efforts, not just dazzle you with raw talent.
Works in progress
Two rookies who might be labeled as projects are receivers Chris Moore and Keenan Reynolds. They won't be doing commercials for All State insurance any time soon because they definitely aren't good hands people.
A year on the developmental squad might help both.
Defensive tackle Brandon Williams is only 6-foot-1, but he knocked down three passes from backup quarterback Ryan Mallett in practice Tuesday. Mallett made Williams look like Michael Jordan even though Williams has a vertical leap of about one inch.
Let's try this once more: Hurry back Joe Flacco.
One more thing: Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman took a lot of criticism last year but in retrospect he did a good job with quarterbacks like Mallett and Jimmy Clausen when they filled in for Flacco. Both had bombed for other teams throughout their NFL careers.
The Ravens used to do this before with tight end Todd Heap, and I like when they do little creative things like putting both tight ends outside to get matchups with smaller cornerbacks and safeties.
When you have tight ends like Dennis Pitta, Ben Watson, Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams on the roster, those big bodies can be a luxury.
Safety Eric Weddle is new to the Ravens, but he looks like he has been in this defense for quite a while. Last season the Ravens were hesitant in their decision making. With Weddle, he might be in the wrong place but he doesn't second guess himself.