McKinnie back, primed to build on last season
Joe Flacco will take snaps from a different center next season.
Potentially, that could be a problem. However, Flacco believes Gino Gradkowski is ready to replace Matt Birk, who retired in February.
The Ravens drafted Gradkowski in the fourth round in 2012, viewing him as their center-in-waiting. For Gradkowski, the waiting is over. He will enter training camp as the starting center, and Flacco does not sound concerned.
“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,” said Flacco during minicamp. “Sometimes it can be a little bit different taking snaps from 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.”
The chemistry between Flacco and Gradkowski will be important. Flacco likes the Ravens to set a quick pace offensively, particularly when they go to a no-huddle offense. He will count on Gradkowski to make offensive line calls quickly, and be ready to snap the ball when Flacco wants.
The Ravens are not betting the house on Gradkowski. In May, they traded for A. Q. Shipley, who started five games at center for the Colts last season.
However, Gradkowski spent last season learning behind Birk. This year, Gradkowski plans on starting.