Monroe was the Jaguars’ eighth-overall pick in 2009 and spent his first four-plus years in Jacksonville. Despite the Jaguars’ struggles this season and the fact that they drafted a left tackle second overall in April, Monroe still didn’t anticipate a trade.
“I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” Monroe said Thursday before his first practice with the Ravens. “It’s an exciting change for me. I’m definitely glad to be here, glad that I was sought out and definitely appreciative of that.”
Landing in Baltimore is sweet on multiple levels for Monroe.
He’s going from a team that won two games last year to one that won the Super Bowl. The Jaguars are winless this year. The Ravens are tied for first place in the AFC North.
He’s stepping into a left tackle position where he’s badly needed. The Ravens are focused on getting the run game jump started and protect quarterback
Monroe’s wife is from Columbia, Md., so it’s a smooth move for the family too.
Now Monroe doesn’t want to leave.
He’s in the final year of his contract, and slated to be a free agent at the end of this season. Eugene read into the Ravens’ dealing of two draft picks as a sign they want him to stay beyond this year. General Manager Ozzie Newsome had never made a midseason trade before, and hates giving away draft picks.
“It doesn’t look like they brought me here the way they did to not have me here for the long term,” Monroe said. “I have to do my thing on the field, prove that I deserve this opportunity, which I’m fully confident I will.”
Monroe won 22 games in Jacksonville during his four years and four weeks. During that same time, the Ravens have won 50 games.
Monroe said the culture of winning is unique in Baltimore, and obviously something he hasn’t been around yet during his career. It also provides stability. Monroe has had four different coaches over the past three seasons in Jacksonville.
“It’s definitely a fresh start, refreshing to come to a new environment and new city,” Monroe said.
Now the biggest challenge for Monroe is to get up to speed with the Ravens’ offensive system in an effort to play this Sunday in Miami, which will be difficult.
He’s in good enough shape to play considering he was starting in Jacksonville and had no issues with his physical when arriving in Baltimore. It’s a mental game now.
Monroe must learn the Ravens’ terminology for their play calls, audibles and other checks on the offensive line. There’s a lot of communication on the line, so that’s something he must quickly get up to speed on.
“A lot of things on the O-line as far as techniques and assignments have some similarities,” Monroe said. “But speaking a different language, you have to be on the same page with the other guys or it’s not going to be a good outcome.”
Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell said the amount of work Monroe gets in Miami will depend on how quickly he learns this week. He said he’s a bright young man from a great background, and could possibly have a limited role.
Caldwell had to plan for Monroe twice a year when he was coaching in Indianapolis. He said pass rushers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis respected Monroe quite a bit.
“He did such a tremendous job against those guys,” Caldwell said. “We’re happy to have him. He’s a great young man with an abundance of talent and we’re anxious to put him to work.”