MATT SKURA IS READY FOR HIS SHOT TO BE THIS YEAR’S RYAN JENSEN - Ryan Mink
Skura went undrafted in 2016 and spent his first season on the Ravens practice squad. He was again placed on the practice squad at the end of training camp last year, but was called up to the 53-man roster before the Week 3 game in London.
The Ravens needed a new right guard after perennial Pro Bowler Marshal Yanda fractured his ankle. Skura figured he would be mostly used on special teams for his first game. Instead, he was thrust into Yanda’s starting spot.
“It happened really fast and there wasn’t much time to process, but sometimes being thrown into the fire is the best way to do it,” Skura said.
Skura was a four-year starter at Duke, including three at center. Still, he adapted to the position switch, battled through a knee injury and ended up starting 12 games. Overall, the offensive line still held strong despite its best player’s absence. According to Pro Football Focus, Skura gave up just one sack all season.
Now Skura is faced with trying to replace another strong player in Jensen, who gained a lot of fans in Baltimore not only with his strong play, but his physical demeanor.
He prides himself on his film study, which he says slows the game down because he picks up on defensive linemen’s tendencies and how to identify blitzing linebackers. He’s technically sound and has good size at 6-foot-3, 315 pounds (he’s added bulk).
Skura’s performance last season was encouraging. In addition to his impressive pass blocking, he was often out in front of Alex Collins’ best runs. If his added bulk results in increased strength at the point of attack, Skura should be an effective center for the Ravens.
Aaron Donald headlines NFL’s top 10 defensive tackles for 2018 - Shaun O’Hara
1. Aaron Donald Rams
Donald is the most disruptive defensive tackle in the game, having led the position in sacks (11), QB hits (27) and forced fumbles (5) in 2017. His quickness and explosive get-off -- combined with great hands -- make Donald almost impossible for interior O-linemen to contain.
8. Damon Harrison Giants
“Snacks” is one of the best run defenders in the league. In a brutal 2017 campaign for the Giants, Harrison was a bright spot, with 76 combined tackles (51 solo) and his first career interception.
9. Linval Joseph Vikings
Joseph led all Vikings defensive linemen in tackles (68) a year ago and was a key cog in Minnesota’s second-ranked run defense, which allowed just 83.6 yards per game. He also chipped in 3.5 sacks. Joseph should only improve with Sheldon Richardson added to the mix. This unit could be scary-good.
Was Brandon Williams snubbed? Deservedly, the Ravens big man was ranked behind penetrating interior lineman such as Donald, Fletcher Cox, Geno Atkins, DeForest Buckner and Malik Jackson. But O’Hara completely overlooked Williams while mentioning run pluggers Harrison, Joseph, Star Lotulelei and Mike Daniels.
JOE FLACCO AND LAMAR JACKSON WILL GET ALONG. SPECULATING OTHERWISE IS WASTED BREATH - John Eisenberg
At the same time, there’s also a list of things they don’t have to be concerned about, and it starts with the “issue” of whether Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson get along.
The possibility that they won’t has become a hot talking point since the draft. But it’s all just wasted breath.
Some are suggesting the Ravens’ quarterback for the past decade won’t offer to shake hands and help the rookie now in line to replace him. But honestly, that’s just a silly, trumped-up scenario. Things aren’t going to shake out that way.
The childish response would be to cold-shoulder him, and plenty of NFL veterans have done just that in this situation, taken what amounts to the low road.
I have little doubt that the Ravens’ famously even-keeled, unflappable quarterback will take the high road.
If you really think Flacco might cause trouble along these lines, you haven’t been watching him for the past decade.
He’s always the same guy no matter what is happening to him or around him. Some fans want more fire out of Joe Cool, but his ability to tune out distractions of all kinds is legendary.
Also, he’s been 100 percent consistent as a teammate and pro.
I’ve never heard him throw one teammate under the bus, not even when it was warranted. And win or lose, he has always stepped in front of the cameras and microphones and taken full responsibility for his performance without once snapping at a question or losing his temper.
As Eisenberg points out, this storyline is much ado about nothing. Expect Flacco to begin mentoring Jackson at OTA’s next week.
Sports betting may force NFL to use full-time officials, enhanced replay - Mike Florio
The NFL knows that it will never get every call right. With sports betting now available for any state that wants to adopt it, the NFL soon will have to try harder.
Both reality and perception will be important in this regard, with a compelling need to eradicate mistakes by officials and an even more compelling need to create the impression that the NFL is doing everything possible to eradicate mistakes by officials. For starters, the NFL will need full-time officials, across the board.
That may not be enough. To the extent that mistakes can be rectified via expanded replay review, the league will have to be willing to consider doing it. And the league also should seriously consider something I’ve suggested for several years now — the use of a video official who is part of the crew, who monitors the action away from the field via the various camera angles, and who communicates directly to the referee when the video reveals that a mistake is about to be made by the on-field crew, ensuring that the pre-replay call is as accurate as possible.
Regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision, the NFL should strive for the best officiating possible.