Gradkowski wins center job

Gradkowski wins center job
August 30, 2013, 8:15 pm
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John Harbaugh builds a 53-man team for Ravens

Gino Gradkowski has won the job to be the Ravens starting center, coach John Harbaugh announced on Friday as the Ravens turned their full attention toward the 2013 regular-season opener at Denver next Thursday night.

Gradkowski, the second-year center from Delaware, was considered the heir apparent to Matt Birk after Gradkowski was selected in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. But then the Ravens signed A.Q. Shipley in May, presumably to push Gradkowski for the starting job. And it worked as Shipley, who started five games for the Colts last season, challenged Gradkowski in what proved to be one of the more competitive battles of camp.

As recently as  a week ago, offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell would not declare a starter, deeming the race too close to call.

But when Shipley started the final preseason game in St. Louis last night -- in which none of the expected starters played -- it was presumed that Gradkowski had won the job, and Harbaugh confirmed that on Friday.

"It will be Gino (who) will be starting.  … I always consider A.Q. a second starter, in a sense," Harbaugh said. "I think he’s played tremendously well, as has Gino. They’ve both done a great job, and we’re fortunate to have both those guys playing that position for us.”

Harbaugh also indicated that, as expected, veteran James Ihedigbo has earned a starting job at safety, beating out first-round draft pick Matt Elam.

“James  has been running with the number ones, and he’ll continue to do that," Harbaugh said. "Matt rolls in and plays a lot. He’ll continue to do that. ... Both of those guys are going to play a lot of football."