Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Ravens: Gradkowski, Ihedigbo named starters

OWINGS MILLS - After a month full of competition and speculation about who would start at each position, Ravens coach John Harbaugh named Gino Gradkowski as his starting center Friday and James Ihedigbo as his starting strong safety.
Gradkowski, a fourth-round pick last year, has been viewed as the likely heir apparent to Matt Birk at center since Birk retired in February, but he was pushed for the starting center job throughout the summer by A.Q. Shipley, who Baltimore traded for in May.
Gradkowski and Shipley shared time with the first-team offense throughout training camp and the preseason, but Shipley struggled some during the Ravens' second preseason game and Gradkowski seemed to fare well a week later, when he started against the Atlanta Falcons.
Gradkowski was held out of Baltimore's preseason finale Thursday, a sign that he had won the competition with Shipley.
"I consider A.Q. a second starter," Harbaugh said. "He's played tremendously well, as has Gino. They've both done a great job, and we're fortunate to have both those guys playing that position for us."
Elam entered the summer viewed by many as the favorite to land the starting job at strong safety, but Ihedigbo worked almost exclusively with the first-team during training camp and started each of the three preseason games he played in.
"James has been running with the 'number ones,' and he'll continue to do that," Harbaugh said. "Matt [rotates] in and plays a lot. He'll continue to do that whether it's in the regular package or the other packages that we have. Both of those guys are going to play a lot of football."