For many NFL players, the annual My Cause My Cleats game is an opportunity for players to raise awareness for a cause they feel strongly about, and that has certainly been the case for Ravens center Matt Skura.
The cause Skura chose to support the past two seasons was the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. Skura's sister-in-law, Avery, 13, was diagnosed with a non-cancerous brain tumor when she was 2 years old.
"Her family going through that was a really tough time for them, trying to understand what is going on and how to navigate the treatments," Skura said on
Glenn Clark Radio
July 16. "My wife and I have been together now for 10 years, so she is pretty much my little sister now."
After honoring Avery, Skura and his wife, Emma, wanted to do more. This season, they are planning on bringing kids affected by brain tumors and their families to some Ravens home games. Skura is also planning on visiting kids at hospitals and helping their families in any way he can.
Skura said that he wants to do "anything they need to make their lives a little bit more comfortable because they are in the hospital so much. It's difficult to be able to run errands or just kind of live a normal life."
Skura is looking to make an impact on the field this coming season, too. He is excited about
the system new offensive coordinator Greg Roman is installing
and is psyched to see what quarterback Lamar Jackson looks like in his first full year as the starter. The Ravens finished the regular season 6-1 with Jackson at quarterback last year.
Roman is taking over as offensive coordinator after a two-year stint as the Ravens' tight ends coach. Before that, he was an offensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills.
"I think we learned a lot last year when Lamar stepped in and played those last seven games. I think it's tweaking the offense we ran with Lamar and seeing the things that we can get better at and seeing the things we were really good at and keeping them really good," Skura said. "There are definitely things that are going to be different. It's making Lamar comfortable, and he has been through the offseason and minicamp. He's really done a good job of taking his game and confidence in the huddle to the next step."
One member of the Ravens offensive line who has been a key figure in helping Skura during his three-year career has been seven-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion guard Marshal Yanda. Skura was signed by the Ravens as an undrafted free agent out of Duke in 2016 and spent that entire season on the practice squad. In 2017, he started 12 games at center and last year, he started all 16 games.
"I would say he's been a pretty instrumental part in my career thus far. My rookie year on practice squad, it just so happened I sat next to Marshal during meetings. I began asking him questions like, 'Hey how do you watch film, what do you look for?'" Skura said. "I just started picking his brain, that whole year I learned so much from him. Being able to play next to him, he just has this calm but strong demeanor about him in games that you can rely on."
Skura did not think this was the best idea in part because the amount of preseason games would drop from four to two, giving undrafted players like him less of an opportunity to prove themselves to teams. He also said two more games would add to the grind of a season.
"Eighteen games is a lot," Skura said. "By Week 16 you're kind of looking at the calendar like, 'Man it's already the next calendar year and we are still in the regular season.'"
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox
To hear more from Skura, listen to the full interview here: