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Monday, October 7, 2013
For Ravens, LT starter should be no-brainer

By Jamison Hensley

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens left tackle Bryant McKinnie struggled mightily in Sunday's 26-23 win at Miami, and Eugene Monroe will have his first full week of practice since being traded from the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Monroe
McKinnie
McKinnie
So, it makes perfect sense that Monroe takes over as the starting left tackle this week, right?

"We’re in wait-and-see mode right now," coach John Harbaugh said of his left tackle situation. "We’ll see what happens over the course of the week. We don’t really know for sure right now."

Gulp.

I would like to see Joe Flacco's reaction when he hears that there is a chance that McKinnie will protect his blind side for another game. For the sake of Flacco's badly beaten up body, let's hope Harbaugh is just being coy about the most important spot on the offensive line because he doesn't want the Green Bay Packers to know Monday that there is going to be a new starting left tackle.

There really shouldn't be a decision, and it's hard to believe Harbaugh when he suggests there is one. McKinnie gave up two hits and four hurries Sunday. He nearly cost the Ravens the game by letting rookie Dion Jordan hit Flacco from behind, which led to an interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

While I've already written that it's a smart move to McKinnie around for veteran depth, it wouldn't have surprised me if the Ravens had cut McKinnie. He was so bad Sunday that I'm not sure the Ravens could trust him on the field.

It looks like the Ravens are catching a break this week because the Packers are tied for 22nd in the NFL with 12 sacks and they're expected to be without their top pass-rusher. Clay Matthews is expected to miss one month with a broken thumb, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Still, the Ravens signed Joe Flacco to a $120.6 million contract seven months ago and they need to protect that investment. Monroe's strength is pass blocking, and Flacco could use some dependable bodyguards these days.

Harbaugh acknowledged that Monroe looked "really good" at practice last week, which should be an indication that he's on track to make his Ravens debut in six days at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium.

"We’re just going to have to see how it plays out. This is unchartered territory for us. It really is," Harbaugh said, alluding to the fact that the Ravens have never traded for a player during the regular season. "We’ve never been down this road before. We’ll see what happens."