As his transition from guard to center continues, Bradley Bozeman's comfort level grows.
Bozeman has not missed a day of training camp, and for the most part, he has been pleased with his performance. After a challenging first day when he launched two errant snaps, Bozeman has been consistent and loves returning to the position he played at Alabama. Bozeman credits Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris for helping him adjust quickly.
"It's great. It's been so much fun getting back in that center role," Bozeman said. "Coach D's done an amazing job helping me grow that way.
"It's like I never left. Coach D kept me in the role of snapping in case something happened (last year). I'm just excited to be back."
One of the main responsibilities for Bozeman will be to read the defense prior to the snap, and to change blocking assignments and pass protection if necessary. Some offensive linemen shy away from the responsibility that comes with playing center, but Bozeman has always relished the role.
"You're looking at everything, honestly," Bozeman said. "It's the entire defense. It's from safeties rolling down, corners pressed, corners off, how many people we have in the box. What's going on? How one front dictates how we're going to run a certain play. Honestly, it's everything. We run a pretty complex offense here, and they ask a lot from their offensive linemen, and we try to provide that comfort for them."
The problems with snapping accuracy that Bozeman experienced on the first day of training camp disappeared once he ditched a full glove for a half glove that gave him more control. It was a hot, sweaty day, and Bozeman angrily tossed his full glove aside after his second errant snap.
"I got back in, got my rhythm back in, went back to the half [glove], and – knock on wood – we've been good since then," Bozeman said.
The Ravens used the pistol formation in 2020 more than any NFL team, which puts a premium on the center's ability to snap the ball accurately. When the quarterback is forced to reach high or low, or to the side to control the snap, it can impact the timing of a play. Training camp reps are crucial for Bozeman, giving him a solid foundation with which to enter the season.
"We just have to chase it every day," Harbaugh said. "We had some high snaps today from a couple of the centers. The snaps need to be there as much as possible, and it's tough. All of a sudden, you have loaded pressure coming from one side or the other, and you have to get moving out of there. Your hips might come up. You might drop. You might step up, and all of a sudden, the ball starts moving somewhere, because your hands are moving on the release. So, we just have to keep working on that under pressure. It's one thing to be out there just sitting there snapping; it's like throwing batting practice. It's another thing when it's real."
Playing center is the assignment that Bozeman wanted, a return to the position where he feels most comfortable. Now in his fourth season, Bozeman has improved every year as a player and he has the same expectation for 2021.
"I think just overall as a player, I've grown a lot," Bozeman said. "I've learned a lot about the game. I've continued to grow every year, every week. I've continued just to do the right things – listening to coaching, taking coaching points, listening to guys like Marshal Yanda, James Hurst, Kevin [Zeitler], all those veterans. I just continue to grow and continue to work on my body posture, work on my feet, work on my hands, punches, just timing – little things that have made me into a pretty good ball player now."