D.J. Fluker has put in the work. Now he's trying to win the job.
Following a rigorous offseason workout and diet regimen, Fluker reported to Ravens training camp in the best shape of his career, part of his quest to win the right guard job with his new team.
Nobody can doubt Fluker's commitment over the last several months, and he has proudly shared his new physique on social media.
Whether Fluker will be the starter Week 1 remains to be seen, as his competition with Ben Powers and rookies Tyre Phillips and Ben Bredeson continues. However, Head Coach John Harbaugh likes what Fluker has done so far.
"He's looked excellent," Harbaugh said. "Moving very well. This is a big guy, and it's all muscle. I'm really impressed with him. He's done a great job. His attitude has been excellent. His work ethic, we had heard it was good. I would say it's been better than good. It's been A, A+. Everything's thumbs up with D.J."
The 6-foot-5 Fluker is still a huge man, just not as huge. Fluker said he weighed around 358 pounds with the Seattle Seahawks at the end of last season, with 44 percent body fat. Now he's down to 348 pounds with 22 percent body fat.
The body transformation could help Fluker prolong his career and become an even more effective player. With 88 career starts over his seven-year career, Fluker is the most experienced of the candidates to replace the retired Marshal Yanda at right guard.
Finding the replacement for Yanda was the biggest unanswered personnel question for the Ravens entering camp. Fluker isn't trying to act like he can replace Yanda, an eight-time Pro Bowler who had a Hall-of-Fame-worthy career. But now that Fluker's in the best shape of his life, he wants to have his best season.
"Yanda's a Hall of Famer," Fluker said. "You can't replace that guy. That's a guy that has his own mentality and how he does things. Those are big shoes to fill, but I'm going to be myself, come in and do what I do best. Hungry, ready to go, and win a championship and a Super Bowl."
Fluker said he spoke with Yanda once via Zoom during an offseason team meeting, one of many things that have helped ease the transition for an eight-year NFL veteran who started 14 games for the Seahawks in 2019.
"Just being here is a blessing," Fluker said. "Everyone's like a big family here. I just feel at home. They make you feel welcome."
Joining the Ravens has reunited Fluker with Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris, a former offensive line coach with the San Diego Chargers who coached Fluker there for three seasons (2013-15). Fluker has always been fond of D'Allessandris and has enjoyed working with him in camp.
"He hasn't changed a bit," Fluker said. "(He's) always about guys working hard, playing their tails off, playing physical. That's been his mentality since Day 1 when he drafted me in San Diego. It's been great."
Squaring off against the Ravens' defensive line in practice will test everyone competing for the right guard spot. Asked about his matchups against defensive end Calais Campbell, Fluker started smiling.
"It's a challenge,' Fluker said. "We go at it. He may win one, I'll win one. He's a real savvy vet. Real tricky. We have great battles. That's what it's about, training camp, going in battling."
Fluker heard about the intensity of Baltimore's practices before he arrived, which is another reason why he pushed himself this offseason. He can tell the difference between how he used to feel, and how he feels today. With more quickness and more stamina, Fluker hopes he shows enough to convince the coaching staff he should be the choice to win the most-watched position battle in camp.
"Got to have sweet feet to play offensive line," Fluker said. "Being lighter, being leaner, being more explosive, that does help."