While the Ravens haven’t exactly been the perfect picture of a healthy team this season, almost all of their injuries have occured to defensive players: Tony Jefferson, DeShon Elliott, Tavon Young, Pernell Mcphee, etc.
Other than Chris Moore and Marquise Brown at some points during the season, the Ravens have been fortunate to have their offensive core intact for almost the entire year thus far. That tide turned on Monday night, however, when starting C Matt Skura suffered a knee injury in the first quarter.
Skura was forced to miss the remainder of the game and following additional testing, it was determined that he needs season-ending surgery.
With 1:52 remaining in the first quarter, Lamar Jackson rushed for five yards on 4th-&-1 and while Skura was blocking forward, a defender fell onto his leg. It was hard to tell what happened at first but following a replay of the play, it immediately did not look good.
Skura has been of the team’s biggest surprises this season. After up-and-down play for the majority of the past two seasons, many fans were pessimistic about Skura entering the year as the team’s starting center. Some, including myself, were calling for the Ravens to upgrade that position or move someone like Bradley Bozeman there.
However, Skura had played at a high level for the majority of the season prior to getting injured. He showed improved strength and power at the line, rarely getting pushed off the block. In addition, his actual snapping ability also improved.
Skura has been a steady and stabilizing force in the middle of the team’s offensive line, which ranks amongst the league leaders in pass blocking and run blocking. In his 10 otal games, Skura never missed a snap due to injury, committed only two penalties and allowed just one sack.
Now, the Ravens will be tasked with replacing him for the remainder of the season. The guy to take his place in the starting lineup will be UDFA Patrick Mekari, who did so when Skura went down against the Rams. Mekari is only in his first year but played 61/77 offensive snaps on Monday night, allowing just two quarterback hurries.
John Harbaugh said there was no drop-off in play after Matt Skura went down and Patrick Mekari went in. Harbs didn't have any update on Skura's injury.— Sarah Ellison (@sgellison) November 26, 2019
It was a comendal performance considering Mekari was thrust into the fire against a formidable defensive front featuring Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers. Mekari has developed a reputation for being more of a pass-blocker than a run-blocker, but the drop off from Skura to him shouldn’t be too significant.
Mekari will be flanked by Marshal Yanda and Orlando Brown Jr. to his right and with Ronnie Stanley at left tackle, the Ravens still have a talented offensive line that plays well collectively. Bradley Bozeman’s play has picked up in recent weeks, too.
If Mekari were to struggle for some reason, the Ravens at least have options. Bozeman has experience playing center and kick over to that spot if need be. In that scenario, the Ravens could deploy James Hurst at guard, an area where he has lots of experience or Ben Powers.
Mekari and the Ravens offensive line as a whole will face another tough test this week against the 49ers, who have arguably the best pass rush and defensive front in the league.
To sum everything up, Skura’s injury is a relatively big blow but the Ravens have the personnel and coaching to withstand his absence.
Also, Lamar Jackson is going to do Lamar Jackson stuff regardless of who is snapping him the ball . . . so that helps.