Monroe Takes 'Major Step' Forward
The Ravens could get their starting left tackle back this Saturday as Eugene Monroe returned to the practice field and is feeling good about his chances.
Monroe hadn't practiced for two weeks leading up to the regular-season finale against Cleveland and wild-card game versus Pittsburgh.
He returned to the field on Tuesday and was a limited participant Wednesday on the first official injury report of the week.
"Today was a major step," Monroe told reporters. "Even from yesterday, I was able to do a lot that I couldn't do. It was definitely positive. It brings a little more optimism for me, so that's a good thing."
Monroe said his ankle injury is "ordinary" and "nothing scary," but added that it's taken a little bit of time to recover.
He said he's not going to press too much to come back if he's not healthy, but that he's doing everything in his power to make sure he will be come Saturday at 4:35 p.m.
"I feel like time's on my side," Monroe said. "The game's not till Saturday midday. I'm taking it day by day and seeing how this thing ends up."
If Monroe is not able to go, the Ravens would again turn to undrafted rookie James Hurst, who battled Steelers pass rusher James Harrison last weekend.
Hurst has now started six games this season and held his own. The Ravens won five of the six games in which he's started.
Baltimore could also opt to slide Hurst to right tackle and move Marshal Yanda back to his natural right guard position. Currently, rookie fifth-rounder John Urschel is playing right guard, and he's also performed well.
Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak said he would like Monroe back for his experience, but is also comfortable with Hurst and Urschel.
"Those guys stepped in earlier in the season and did a good job, too," Monroe said. "I was confident that they would go out there and do well and they did. We won and we're here now. I'm definitely proud of those younger guys that we have."
Jernigan Back To His Old Self
Second-round rookie Timmy Jernigan made a quick recovery from an ankle/foot injury and looks on pace to play this weekend in Foxborough.
After missing last week's game in Pittsburgh, Jernigan was a full-practice participant on Wednesday.
"I felt good. I felt like nothing ever happened," Jernigan told reporters. "Feeling good, feeling back to my old self. So I'm ready to play."
The explosive defensive tackle missed four games earlier this year due to a minor knee injury, so he's itching to get back on the field.
"Very hungry," he said. "After missing almost half of the season because of injury, and then having to sit out the first game because of injury, it kind of gives you extra fuel to your fire. So I'm ready to go."
Jernigan has made his presence felt when he's played. He has 23 tackles and four sacks this year, and could form a dangerous duo with Haloti Ngata, who Jernigan stepped in for during the veteran's four-game suspension.
If the Ravens can pair Ngata and Jernigan, it will put pressure on the interior of the Patriots offensive line and could push it back into quarterback Tom Brady's face.
Jernigan could also square off against a familiar face in college teammate and current rookie Patriots starting center Bryan Stork.
"We went at it for three years," Jernigan said. "So it's going to be fun to maybe have a chance to go against Stork, too."