Ravens beef up struggling O-Line with Monroe deal

The Baltimore Ravens ran out of patience waiting for their
lackluster offensive line to become an effective group.

After watching the Ravens yield 12 sacks and average a scant 64
yards rushing during the first four games, general manager Ozzie
Newsome obtained left tackle Eugene Monroe from the Jacksonville
Jaguars for a pair of draft picks.

”It’s a sign that this football team wants to win and we want
to win now,” defensive lineman Chris Canty said Wednesday. ”We’re
not going to accept anything less than championship performance.
Hopefully he comes in here and puts us in a better position to
win.”

The trade had not been formally finalized by Wednesday
afternoon, so Monroe did not practice with the team. But coach John
Harbaugh expects the 6-foot-5, 305-pounder to immediately challenge
Bryant McKinnie for the starting job at left tackle.

”Obviously, we’re bringing Eugene in to play,” Harbaugh said.
”How soon that can happen remains to be seen. The main thing is,
it makes us better almost immediately in terms of adding a football
player of that quality to our team. We’ll just figure it out. We’ll
fit it together to use these guys the best way we can.”

McKinnie was a key figure in Baltimore’s run to a Super Bowl
title last year. Although he’s struggled at times this season, the
12-year veteran is far from being the sole reason for the
inadequate performance of the offensive line.

Second-year center Gino Gradkowski is still getting used to
calling the blocking assignments on the line. And everyone up front
is adjusting to Juan Castillo, who’s in his first year as run game
coordinator.

But Ray Rice, who has a meager 89 yards in 30 carries this year,
openly questioned the determination of the offensive line.

Asked how the line can match its performance of a year ago, Rice
replied, ”We have to match the other team’s intensity to be
effective in the run game. Sometimes a guy wants it a little bit
more on the other side. That’s what we have to do, we have to fight
that. We have to match the other team’s intensity.”

Right tackle Michael Oher wasn’t quite sure if the problem with
the running game rested solely upon the offensive line.

”There’s not one thing that I can pinpoint,” Oher said. ”I
guess we have to do a better job – if we open a hole, open a bigger
hole, stuff like that.”

Virtually nothing worked last Sunday in a 23-20 loss to Buffalo.
Baltimore attempted a franchise-record low nine rushing attempts
and yielded four sacks. Not only that, but quarterback Joe Flacco
threw five interceptions, many of them while under duress in the
pocket.

Flacco is certain that a few tweaks, and not necessarily an
overhaul of the line, would make things better.

”Just little things. Cleaning up some little things up front,”
Flacco said. ”It’s nothing crazy. Just little things here and
there that are pretty easily fixed. I’m not really too worried
about it.”

The Ravens (2-2) are going to need to buckle down up front to
beat the Miami Dolphins (3-1) on the road Sunday.

”We just need to keep working and keep fighting out there to
get better,” guard Marshal Yanda said. ”The last game was a
little tough. We kind of got away from the run a little bit just
because we were down. It’s just one of those things where we have
to keep working at it. There’s no magical formula.”

Maybe not, but the addition of Monroe – the eighth overall pick
in the 2009 draft – can’t hurt. The 26-year-old could contribute as
soon as this Sunday.

”He’s strong, athletic, can move,” Oher said. ”He’s a very
hard worker, he’s a good player. He’s going to fit what we’re
trying to do. It will just give the Ravens another option.”

AP NFL website: -www.pro32.ap.org