Baltimore Ravens center Matt Skura was placed on injured reserve after suffering a knee injury Monday night against the Los Angeles Rams.
Skura was having his finest season in Baltimore and was ranked as the 22nd best center in pass blocking (63.9), according to Pro Football Focus. Skura also had started 29 consecutive games and was No. 2 in Pro Bowl voting.
Skura, who was signed as a rookie free agent from Duke in 2016, also played a key role in the Ravens' running attack, which ranks No. 1 in the NFL with 210.5 yards per game. He also had a solid rapport with Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is having an MVP-caliber season.
Skura suffered the injury while attempting a block late in the first quarter. He was later carted from the field.
Patrick Mekari, undrafted rookie from California, replaced Skura against the Rams and played well enough to get another opportunity this week against the San Francisco 49ers, a rematch of Super Bowl XLVII.
"I was ready,” Mekari said. “I knew with the interior three, whatever happened, I’m the next guy up. And the time presented itself and I just wanted to go in there and make it happen and come out with the win and just help my team.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh was also impressed by the rookie's performance and the work of offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris.
“I think it says a lot about Pat Mekari and it says a lot about Joe ‘D.’ and the job he does with those guys," Harbaugh said. "To step in there and still play at that high level. I mean Matt Skura was playing at a very high level. It looks Patrick did the same, there was no drop off at all. Rookie, it says a lot.”
The Ravens have an NFL-best seven-game winning streak and sit atop the AFC North at 9-2. Baltimore still trails the Patriots (10-1) by one game for the top overall seed in the AFC playoffs. However, Baltimore owns the tiebreaker against New England by virtue of a 37-20 victory on Nov. 3.