The Ravens are making a bold move in advance of this afternoon’s critical matchup with the Titans. Per Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com, Baltimore is benching starting center Matt Skura. Second-year pro Patrick Mekari will get the nod in Skura’s stead.
Skura has had issues snapping the ball in each of the past two weeks. In a win over the Colts in Week 9, the problem was attributed to a cut on his hand, and in the team’s loss to the Patriots last week, the heavy rains throughout the game certainly didn’t help. Still, poor snaps torpedoed two second-half drives against New England, and head coach John Harbaugh said afterwards, “[the rain’s] not an excuse — we still have to make our snaps. They made their snaps.”
The Ravens’ offense has struggled to get in a rhythm this season, and the O-line play has been a big reason for that. The unit has often struggled to give QB Lamar Jackson ample time to throw, and it has generally been unable to open running lanes for Jackson and Baltimore’s stable of RBs. Losing RG Marshal Yanda to retirement in the offseason was obviously a major blow, and LT Ronnie Stanley went on season-ending IR with a severe ankle injury earlier this month. Yanda’s replacement, rookie Tyre Phillips, has also missed time due to injury.
Like the other members of the Ravens’ offensive front, Skura played well in 2019, though his season was cut short thanks to ACL, MCL and PCL tears that he suffered nearly one year ago today. The fact that he sufficiently recovered from that injury in time to participate in the team’s first padded practice this summer was remarkable, but it’s possible that he’s still not back to full strength.
Mekari has started three games at guard this year, and his move to the pivot will allow 2019 fourth-rounder Ben Powers to get his first start of his pro career at right guard, as Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic tweets. Skura, meanwhile, will have a chance to return later in the season once he has had the opportunity to clear his head.
The former UDFA out of Duke is playing out the 2020 campaign on the low-level RFA tender (though if he hadn’t gotten injured, the Ravens may have needed to use a higher tender on him). He had the chance to position himself well for a big payday this offseason, but unless things improve quickly, he may need to settle for a modest one-year pact in 2021.
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