|06-20-2013, 06:44 PM||#1|
Matt Forte = future MVP
Join Date: Oct 2009
Ravens, Joe Flacco Confident In C Gino Gradkowski
Ravens six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk retired this offseason and the team is turning to Gino Gradkowski to replace him.
Although Gradkowski will face competition from former Indianapolis Colts center AQ Shipley, he remains the frontrunner to win the starting job, Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports.
So far, the reviews for Gradkowski have been positive.
"It’s been good," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "Matt was a great center, and I think Gino has done a great job last year of picking the offense up and being able to kind of get in there right away and do pretty good. And sometimes it can be a little bit different taking snaps from [different] centers. I know I loved taking the snap from Matt because I could basically stand straight up because he was so high.
"I was a little bit worried about Gino at first, because I didn’t think he was going to be like that, but he’s been great. I’ve been comfortable underneath of him, and like I said, he’s a bright guy. He’s picked the offense up quickly and he’s making all of his calls quickly and getting our offense going and allowing us to set that tempo.”
For veteran offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, this will mark an unfamiliar time since he had played with Birk going back to their days with the Minnesota Vikings.
“Matt has been there probably my whole career, except for like a year or two," McKinnie said. "I’m kind of familiar with Gino, and I’m getting to know AQ. I have a lot of confidence in Gino. Gino was here last year. He knows the system. He’s out there fighting and grinding with us, so pretty good.”
"I think people probably look at Gino and think, 'Oh, he's kind of a small guy,'" Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said during The Baltimore Sun Sports Forum. "He's a small-school guy and he's probably not the biggest guy physically, but I think he's a gritty, smart, tough guy, very quick-footed. He fits our zone blocking scheme very well.
"He's definitely going to have every opportunity to be a starting center for us this year. He's going to have some competition. He's got the right mentality, the right makeup, the drive to be a good player. He comes from a football family. He's an important piece of the puzzle."
Source: The Redzone
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