NFL Training Camp: Center Battle Heating Up


Jan 12, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Baltimore Ravens guard Gino Gradkowski (66) against the Denver Broncos during the AFC divisional round playoff game at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens, like most teams, have a litany of positions up for grabs right now. Safety, Wide Receiver, Defensive End, Inside Linebacker, Corner and practically every backup job on the roster are all availiable to varying degrees. One of the least talked about position battles of the offseason has been the center battle.

The Ravens drafted Gino Gradkowski to be the heir apparent to Matt Birk. Gradkowski is the presumed starter and certainly has a leg up on the job, but trade acquisition A.Q. Shipley is nipping at his heels and reportedly splitting 1st team reps with Gradkowski. The Ravens likely want Gradkoski to win the job. They like home grown talent, but A.Q. Shipley has more NFL experience and played very well last year for the Colts.

At the end of the day, the Ravens will start the best player. That said, potential and future returns will certainly be considered. Gino has the leg up because he is younger and the Ravens feel he has upside. If they don’t feel that Shipley has as high an upside, Than Gino doesn’t necessarily have to be better, he just needs to be close. The fact that Shipley is being given starting reps could indicate that Gradkowski isn’t quite ready. That is just supposition on my part, I certainly haven’t talked to someone who told me anything like that, Im just connecting the dots.

The two centers are locked into a heated battle, but Who will end up with the job? At this point, I would still guess it is Gradkowski, but I am starting to swing the other way.