Ravens Eugene Monroe looking forward to a healthy season

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— The offensive line is one of the stronger positions on the Baltimore Ravens roster. The players have drawn some attention as being the lone unit that can rival the Dallas Cowboys for best in the NFL.

However, that is not of utmost importance to left tackle Eugene Monroe, the anchor of the offensive line. The seventh year veteran didn’t pull any punches when he was asked about being recognized as one of the best units.

“It doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is winning games.” Monroe said. “That’s the most important thing, so I couldn’t care less what accolades are given to us. It really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change our performance on Sundays. What’s important is winning games.”

Most important to Monroe is staying healthy this season. He hasn’t played a full season since 2012 when he started 16 games for the Jacksonville Jaguars, the team that made him the eighth selection in the 2009 NFL Draft. He started 15 games in 2013 when he was traded from Jacksonville to the Ravens. Eleven of those starts where for the Ravens and the other four where for the Jaguars. A minor knee procedure limited Monroe to 11 starts last year with the Ravens.

Monroe says that the main objective for an athlete, especially a football player is training for injury prevention.

“In terms of staying healthy, 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 said.

He referred to the other benefits from training as “knocking out every stone in the pillar.” The other stones that Monroe was referring to would be the benefit of improving strength, speed and stamina.

There are some injuries that simply can’t be avoided no matter how much training is done. One example would be last year when Monroe sprained his ankle. He suffered the injury in week 16 against the Houston Texans and it kept him out of the regular season finale against the Cleveland Browns. Monroe also missed the AFC Wild Card game against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

Keeping the same unit together and remaining healthy is something that was a common thread when talking to Monroe and his fellow linemen Kelechi

Osemele and Marshall Yanda. Osemele felt that having the whole crew back was very important. “Continuity is important when you’re working as an offensive line, because everybody kind of has to move as one piece, and I feel like we’re definitely going to have that with everybody coming back healthy.”

Monroe reported to mini-camp with a noticeably slimmer physique. He says that his weight was about the same as before but his goal was to carry less body fat. He says that carrying less body fat improves stamina and that will be a major key to maintain during the stretch run of a long season. Monroe also feels lighter on his feet, which he says will be an added bonus.

“Absolutely, I am lighter, and really the main kicker is being able to sustain when it’s third-and-long and the [defensive] end is thinking, ‘Oh, I got him. He’s tired.’ No, there’s no fatiguing,” Monroe said with a smile.

The streamlined physique is something that Monroe attributes to having his own personal trainer who helped him develop a program after looking at last season. The new regimen honed in on everything that he needed to do in order to come back strong.

Monroe scoffed at the off season accolades that have been placed on the offensive line but he still feels that the unit can be great and needs to come back healthy.

“We have a great group. We have everyone back, which is fortunate, so we’re just looking to build and be better than we were last year. And I think we have the guys with the right attitude, the right work ethic [and] the right commitment to being great,” Munroe said.