For left tackle Eugene Monroe, the first step to having a better year would be having a healthier year.
Monroe missed five games last season with knee and ankle issues, and did not start the Ravens’ two playoff games. The Ravens are expecting a bigger contribution in 2015 from a player due to earn $5.5 million next season, and who is signed through 2018.
After reporting to mandatory minicamp in excellent shape, Monroe sounded driven to have his best season since being traded to the Ravens in 2015. When training camp begins in a few weeks, Monroe expects to be in the best shape of his career.
“I have my own trainer, so we developed a program pretty much based on everything I need,” Monroe said after a minicamp practice. “The most you can do is get your body to a point where you’ve done everything under the sun to ensure that you’re strong enough to prevent whatever injury may occur.”
Monroe is a key to the Ravens’ offensive front, still in his prime at age 28, and protecting the blindside of quarterback Joe Flacco. With the starting offensive line returning intact, the unit has the potential to be one of the NFL’s best.
However, Monroe is focusing on results, not expectations. The Jaguars never made the playoffs during Monroe’s four-plus seasons in Jacksonville. Watching from the sidelines during the playoffs in January was a disappointment to Monroe. He wants another chance at the postseason, and next time, he intends to be healthy.
“We have a great group,” Monroe said of the offensive line. “We have everyone back, which is fortunate, so we’re just looking to build and be better than we were last year.”