Monroe Named Starter For Sunday
New Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe is ready to take over the blind side.
After practicing with his teammates throughout this week, and continuing his study of the team's playbook and terminology, Monroe feels comfortable enough to suit up. He sat out last week after reporting to the team just four days earlier.
"It's like any other Sunday for me. I'll be ready to go," Monroe told reporters.
Head Coach John Harbaugh announced to the media that Monroe will start unless something unforeseen changes.
"He did a heck of a job this week. He looks good," Harbaugh said.
Monroe was at practice last week, but was more of a spectator than a participant as he watched left tackle Bryant McKinnie and the others prepare for the game in Miami.
This week, Monroe was a full participant at left tackle.
"I've had some time now to work with the rest of the guys," he said. "I'm ready to roll on every level."
Now Monroe must manage his excitement to get his first start in purple and black before his new hometown fans in M&T Bank Stadium.
"Excitement isn't an emotion that helps you perform in terms of precision," he said. "I need to be precise, I need to be on top of my game since everything is brand new. I am excited, but I'll be focused and ready to do my job at a high level."
Former starting left tackle Bryant McKinnie, who had a rough game in Miami, views Monroe taking over the starting job this Sunday as a good thing.
"It actually kind of helps me out because I had a nagging injury anyway," McKinnie told reporters. "It gives him time to see what he can do and gives me some time to rest."
McKinnie said he had some swelling in his knee that he had drained.
"I'll just do my part. In the meantime, I get to rest up a little bit," he said.
Asked whether he expects to remain in Baltimore, McKinnie said, "I don't know. I've been hearing a lot of things, so who knows? Maybe, maybe not."
Ngata Just Rested, Will Play
Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata put a scare into some Ravens fans by sitting out practice Wednesday and Thursday with a hip injury.
Turns out the big man was simply given a couple days off. He's listed as questionable to play, but will suit up, according to Harbaugh.
"He had little tweaks and strains and things like that, so we gave him a couple days," Harbaugh said. "But he looked good today, so he's going to play. He should be fine."
Ngata was dominant inside last week in Miami, and a big reason the Dolphins rushed for just 22 yards. He'll be relied upon this Sunday to slow bruising running back Eddie Lacy and get pressure on quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Jacoby Progresses, Questionable To Play
Wide receiver Jacoby Jones progressed this week, but is still questionable to play. Jones practiced on a limited basis throughout last week and this week.
"He looked good, so [we're] encouraged," Harbaugh said.
Wide receivers Marlon Brown (thigh) and Brandon Stokley (thigh) are also questionable to play and were limited throughout the week.
If Jones, Brown and Stokley all can suit up, Harbaugh said it will be a "tough decision" picking who is active for gameday. Last week, the Ravens had only three healthy receivers. Now they'll have to pick between Torrey Smith, Jones, Brown, Deonte Thompson, Stokley and Tandon Doss.
"It's strictly game plan," Harbaugh said. "It's strictly the fact that we're going to have a bunch of guys healthy for the first time."
Other Ravens Injuries
Starting left guard Kelechi Osemele said his back is feeling better, but is questionable to face the Packers. Osemele attributed his spasms to a soft mattress in Miami. He will have the advantage of staying in familiar Baltimore this weekend.
Running back Bernard Pierce (thigh) and defensive tackle Marcus Spears (knee) were also limited through this week's practices and are both questionable.
Nose tackle Terrence Cody (knee) didn't practice throughout the week and is doubtful to play. It would be his third straight game not playing. Linebacker Albert McClellan (shoulder) also didn't practice this week, but is questionable.
Rookie center/guard Ryan Jensen (foot) returned to the field for the first time this season in a [add] limited capacity Thursday and Friday. He is questionable to play, but seems to be more on target for next week.
"Next week, we'll just have to see how he responds. I'm hoping he's out there every snap next week," Harbaugh said. "And then, we'll just have to see because here's a rookie who hasn't practiced in two months plus."
McClain Gets 'Very Favorable' Reports
Inside linebacker Jameel McClain isn't eligible to play this weekend, but could be nearing a return.
Reports surfaced this week that McClain has been cleared by his doctors to return to action, and Harbaugh said there is "some truth to that."
"The back specialists have looked at his most recent MRIs, and it's very favorable," Harbaugh said. "I'm not in position to sit here and say completely 100 percent – I don't know that. There is a process still involved, but it's encouraging to say the least. It's all positive that way."
McClain, who has been sidelined for 10 months due to a spinal cord contusion, is eligible to return to practice next week. Harbaugh said he could return then, but that decision still has yet to be made.
"There will be a couple factors that go into that – timing-wise, his shape, our situation," Harbaugh said. "He hasn't played for a long time. What do the doctors tell us about his readiness that way? So, we'll just have to see."
Packers Out Two Top Defensive Players
Green Bay has been hit by the injury bug.
The Packers have ruled out five players: linebacker Clay Matthews (thumb), linebacker Brad Jones (hamstring), running back James Starks (knee), cornerback Casey Hayward (hamstring) and guard/center Greg Van Roten (foot).
Matthews is the team's top pass rusher and Jones is second on the team in tackles (29).
Hayward is a backup cornerback and Starks currently owns the NFL's highest average rushing yards per carry mark. Eddie Lacy will carry the load at running back.
Reserve cornerback Jarrett Bush (hamstring) is questionable, so the Packers have depth issues in their secondary heading into the game.