Ravens Orlando Brown Jr has been impressed with veteran guard DJ Fluker in camp thus far
For the first time since being elevated into the starting lineup six games into his rookie season in 2018, Baltimore Ravens right tackle Orlando Brown Jr will be seeing a different face to his left when the 2020 season kicks off. Brown is entering his third season this year and following the retirement of future Hall of Fame guard Marshal Yanda earlier this offseason, he’ll be playing alongside a new right guard for the first time in his career.
He was able to thrive and even earn a trip to the Pro Bowl in just his second season under the tutelage of the eight-time Pro Bowler as the two anchored the right side of one of the best offensive lines over the past two seasons. However, Yanda has hung up his cleats for good and terraformed his body into looking like an average joe, leaving a void in Baltimore’s starting lineup.
While his friend and mentor can never be replaced, the competition to fill his vacated spot at right guard is the fiercest and most anticipated of training camp. The list of candidates includes veteran D.J. Fluker, second-year pro Ben Powers, and rookies Tyre Phillips and Ben Bredeson.
Fluker is a former first-round pick who was signed during the offseason is the most experienced of the bunch with 88 career starts and he has already made a strong impression on Brown with his approach to being the best he can be so that he can help the line as a whole do the same.
“D.J. is somebody that works hard,” Brown said. “He came in here with the mentality that he wants to do his best for the team and for the O-line. He’s giving it everything he’s got. I’ve been really impressed with his work ethic and his drive and his focus every day in practice.”
Yanda isn’t the only one that has shed a noticeable amount of weight and reshaped his body since the 2019 season ended. Fluker arrived at his first camp with the Ravens in incredible shape and the slimmest he’s been since he entered the league.
“D.J.’s a big guy. Holy smokes,” Strength & Conditioning Coach Steve Saunders said. “When I met him the other day, it was like an eclipse on top of me. Just a monster of a man. Really impressed with him, how he dove in today, just his mentality. Him getting to know us virtually over the spring and summer and really understanding what it means to be a Raven and how to work like a Raven. D.J. to me is all-in. I feel like he’s going to be a huge asset wherever he ends up on our offensive line.”
We got a glimpse of what the starting five might be when Week One rolls around after a photo from late last week of a full-line drill went viral over the weekend. It featured Brown at his right tackle spot, Fluker at right guard, Patrick Mekari at center, Bradley Bozeman at left guard and while Ronnie Stanley wasn’t captured in the picture, he was lined up at his left tackle spot.
While the starting combination is all subject to change as the competition at right guard and center rages on, other players get an opportunity to run with the first team and others get healthier—center Matt Skura for example—the fact that Fluker began camp with the first team bodes well for his chances to win the job for good as long as he can continue to embrace the grind, improve and stack good practices.