In some ways, Matt Skura's first career start at right guard in the Ravens' 44-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday was a lot like his four starts in the preseason – especially when it came to dealing with the emotions building inside of his 6-foot-3, 313-pound frame.
"I try to make every game the same as far as preparation, pre-game, all of that stuff," he said this week. "In the preseason games, I still had jitters when I went out there, and those jitters were pretty much the same with the first couple of plays [on Sunday]. It was different, but I tried to keep it simple."
While it is difficult to determine how an offensive lineman played, Skura, a second-year player who went undrafted out of Duke, did not surrender a sack in the 43 snaps he played. He was in the spot usually occupied by six-time Pro Bowler Marshal Yanda, who is out for the season with a fractured left ankle.
Rookie Jermaine Eluemunor, who played 15 snaps, did give up a sack, but coach John Harbaugh was generally pleased with what he saw out of both Skura and Eluemunor, a fifth-round selection in April's NFL draft.
"There's a lot of good plays in there," he said. "You would be pretty happy with the way those two right guards played and you would probably be a little bit surprised. So I wasn't at all displeased with the way the two young right guards played, but across the board it was an issue here and an issue there that ended up hurting us against a defense that played really well, and that snowballed on us."
Pro Football Focus gave Skura a 52.4 grade, writing that he "wasn't a liability." Skura said he has spent this week preparing for Sunday's game against the Steelers and reviewing his own play.
"I think my effort overall was really good for the most part," he said. "It was just little technique things as far as saying, 'Oh, I could have been better on this backside block, holding my ground a little bit more,' or in the passing game holding up a little bit more against the bull rush. I feel like as the game went on, I got into my sets a little bit better. Little things like that and just making sure that my legs are there."