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Birk expects to play, but Gurode is ready

Indianapolis ColtsBen GrubbsCleveland BrownsAndre GurodeMatt BirkDallas Cowboys

Ravens center Matt Birk, who injured his shoulder in Sunday’s 24-10 win over the Cleveland Browns, returned to practice Friday after sitting out the previous two and is optimistic that he will make his 93rd straight start.

“Yeah, I feel good. We’re still 48 hours away, and there’s a lot to be done,” Birk said. “But I think it’s one of those things where we’ll have to see how it feels on Sunday. ... There’s so much stress and worry and all those things that you just live in the now and go to the trainer’s room and do what they tell me to do.”

If for some reason Birk can’t go Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, Andre Gurode is waiting in the wings.

A late addition in the preseason, Gurode made five starts at left guard when Ben Grubbs was sidelined with a toe injury earlier in the season. Results were mixed, but his natural position is center. He has been selected to five Pro Bowls as a center, including a season ago when he anchored the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line.

“You’re like a second quarterback,” Gurode said of the center position. “You’re responsible to get everyone lined up and get all the calls out to the offensive linemen, so it’s a position that has a lot of responsibility.”

Gurode has “gone over things with” Birk and they have studied film together to prepare for the winless Colts.

“If the team needs me, I’m ready to play,” said Gurode, who also pointed out that Birk looked good in practice.

Birk said “I guess I have pride in” his consecutive games streak, but he won’t just play to keep it going.

“Whether the streak is 100 games or one, if you can play, you play,” Birk said. “And if you can’t, you can’t. I’ve been in this business long enough to know that if I can’t be effective, I can’t help the team. Then there’s no point in doing it.”

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Indianapolis ColtsBen GrubbsCleveland BrownsAndre GurodeMatt BirkDallas Cowboys
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