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Gino Gradkowski Reacts To Jeremy Zuttah Trade

Posted Mar 26, 2014

The third-year center looks forward to competition for playing time.

Center Gino Gradkowski’s role for next season changed after the Ravens traded for veteran offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah earlier this week.

Zuttah is expected to be the starting center, Head Coach John Harbaugh said, which would knock Gradkowski out of the lineup after he started every game last season.

The third-year veteran is taking the move in stride.

“You expect competition every year,” Gradkowski said Tuesday. “That’s the nature of this league and that’s the nature of this business. We got a good guy in Jeremy. I’m excited to meet him and I think he’s a good addition to our o-line, but I’m looking forward to the competition.”

The Ravens acquired Zuttah from Tampa Bay for a reported 2015 fifth-round pick. The trade was confirmed Wednesday after Zuttah arrived in Baltimore and passed his physical.

The addition of Zuttah is part of an overall effort by the Ravens to upgrade their offensive line after a disappointing 2013 season. The Ravens wanted to get bigger in the interior of their line, and Zuttah (6-foot-4, 308 pounds) is slightly bigger than Gradkowski (6-3, 300).

Adding size is also a priority for Gradkowski, who has been one of the consistent faces at the Under Armour Performance Center throughout the offseason.

“I’m trying to get to get bigger and stronger,” Gradkowski said. “I’m trying to eat right, work out, work hard. Things are going well this offseason and I can’t wait to get started.”

Gradkowski was a fourth-round draft pick out of Delaware in 2012, and he spent his rookie season learning behind veteran center Matt Birk. Last year was his first opportunity to start, and he will likely back up Zuttah at center if the newcomer ends up holding onto the starting job.

Regardless of what the rotation ends up being along the line, Gradkowski is confident the unit will be much improved from last season.

“I think we’ll pick it up and be better than we were last year,” he said. “I’m excited to see it.”

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