Veteran center Jeremy Zuttah was back on Baltimore's practice field Saturday morning after re-signing with the team the previous day.
The team signed him just five months after trading him to the San Francisco 49ers, but a rash of injuries along the offensive line created a need to add veteran depth and the 49ers released Zuttah 10 days ago. Head Coach John Harbaugh said that Zuttah will compete with Ryan Jensen for the starting center job.
"They said to go out there, compete, and we'll see where we're at," Zuttah said. "The role for right now is to come out, work hard, and earn playing time."
Even though Zuttah has only been gone a few months, there have been some fairly significant changes in that time. Baltimore adjusted its offensive terminology and changed its running scheme to move away from the stretch-zone system of the last three years. Zuttah also has a new number, 64, after wearing No. 53 the last three years.
"He's a veteran player and he's blocked a lot of those plays before," Harbaugh said. "Cadence, snapping the ball, pass protection – he fits right in. He's very smart. Obviously, he studied all night to get ready for practice, so it's good to have him back."
Zuttah, a 10-year veteran, has been Baltimore's starting center for the last three years. He could play guard in an emergency situation, Harbaugh said, but the Ravens plan to keep him at center.
The coaching staff will have to decide over the next few weeks whether to keep Jensen as the starter, or move him to the open spot at left guard and start Zuttah at center. The left guard spot opened last week after Alex Lewis underwent season-ending shoulder surgery. James Hurst is another option at left guard, but an injury to Ronnie Stanley has forced him take the first-team reps at left tackle for the last week.
All of the injuries have led to serious juggling of the line, and that process will continue as the Ravens work to determine their best five linemen.
"We will do whatever is best for the Ravens. The best players play, and the best players are the guys who play the best. That is how we do it – always have, always will. We will see how it plays out. I love competition, and I'm sure that all of those guys in there want to start. They have to earn it, so that is what they will try to do."
Below are some of the other notes from Saturday's practice:
- Rookie cornerback Marlon Humphrey did not practice as he continues to deal with a "soft-tissue issue." Humphrey made his preseason debut Thursday, but the injury limited him to only nine snaps against Miami. It's unclear if he re-aggravated the injury or if the Ravens are just being cautious in working the first-round pick back to action.
- Veteran running back Danny Woodhead also didn't practice after making his preseason debut Thursday. Harbaugh didn't announce what's keeping him sidelined. Other players missing from practice included Stanley and wide receivers Breshad Perriman (hamstring) and Chris Matthews (undisclosed). Quarterback Joe Flacco (back) still isn't practicing, but that was expected.
- Former Ravens linebacker Zachary Orr announced Friday that he's retired for good after failing to get medical clearance from 17 NFL teams for his congenital neck/spine condition. But the Ravens would still like to bring him back to Baltimore in some capacity. "I'm a big admirer of Zach Orr," Harbaugh said. "He just comes from a great family. All of those kids are going to do great because their parents are so amazing. He's going to be successful in whatever he does, but I think he wants to be in football. We'll probably try to talk him into coming here to be a part of what we do. I sure would like to have him in scouting or coaching, whatever he wants to do."
- Former Ravens tight end Todd Heap was in town taking in practice.