Los Angeles — Ravens reserve lineman and undrafted rookie Patrick Mekari said he purchased “close to 40” tickets for family members to see the Ravens play the Los Angeles Rams at the LA Memorial Coliseum on “Monday Night Football.”
Mekari, a two-year starter at guard and tackle at California, played high school football at Westlake High School in Thousand Oaks, about 43 miles from The Coliseum.
His high school days marked the last time he played meaningful snaps at center.
But with the Ravens leading the Rams 7-0, quarterback Lamar Jackson shot through the left side of the offensive line on a fourth-down run, picking up a first down.
Starting center Matt Skura injured his leg on the play and was carted off with what was later announced to be a knee sprain. Mekari was thrust into the starting lineup in front of a national spotlight, asked to spearhead the NFL’s top-ranked rushing attack.
“I was ready,” Mekari said after the game. “I knew the interior three, whatever happened, I’m the next guy up. The time presented itself. I just wanted to make it happen and come out with a win and just help my team do whatever I can.”
The Ravens offense didn’t skip a beat, as Jackson threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown on the very next play to give the Ravens a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
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Without their starting center for over three quarters, the Ravens went on to run for a season-high 285 yards.
Coach John Harbaugh didn’t provide further detail on the extent of Skura’s knee sprain, saying, “I don’t know anything definitive yet.”
“I think it says a lot about Pat Mekari and it says a lot about [Ravens offensive line coach] Joe ‘D.’ [D’Alessandris] and the job he does with those guys,” Harbaugh said. “To step in there and still play at that high level. I mean, Matt Skura was playing at a very high level. It looks like Patrick did the same, there was no drop off at all. Rookie, it says a lot.”
Entering Monday night’s game, Mekari had played 43 offensive snaps, spelling Skura in the final minutes of blowout victories.
Mekari helped hold Rams star defensive end Aaron Donald, who entered with eight sacks, to one tackle and zero sacks or quarterback hits. Jackson was sacked just twice.
“I thought our coaches did a great job with the game plan,” Harbaugh said. “But, really it goes to the offensive line. The linemen did it and we did it with double teams, no doubt. They were good, tight-fit double teams which our guys do well, but they were also one-on-one blocks.
“Marshal Yanda is one of the best players ever to play the game at right guard, there’s just no question about it. Then, Bradley Bozeman did a nice job. They move them everywhere, so all of our guys, but I think the offensive line deserves the credit for that.”