John Urschel said his experience playing center before he was drafted by the Ravens consisted of a repetition "or two" while he was at Penn State.
When the Ravens face the St. Louis Rams Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, it will be Urschel delivering the ball to quarterback Joe Flacco and making his first career start at center. Ravens coach John Harbaugh announced Wednesday that starting center Jeremy Zuttah will have season-ending surgery to repair a partially torn pectoral muscle and be placed on injured reserve.
That will leave Urschel, a natural guard, as the starting center. Ryan Jensen will be his backup.
"I feel well prepared," Urschel said. "I started a game at center in the preseason. I played well. I've been practicing it ever since I got drafted here. Just prepare as best as I can, make sure that I do everything in my ability … to help my teammates win."
Zuttah suffered the injury late in Sunday's 22-20 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was sidelined for just two snaps before returning to the game in time for the Ravens' final drive. Harbaugh said doctors weren't 100 percent certain that the injury would heal without surgery, so Zuttah opted to have it done.
"He had a pec issue before … and this probably tore it a little more than what it was before," Harbaugh said.
Zuttah played in the game against the Jaguars despite being questionable because of a shoulder injury that he suffered in the Ravens' previous game against the San Diego Chargers. In that game, Urschel replaced Zuttah and struggled with his snaps, particularly when in the shotgun.
But Urschel has spent considerable time in practice the past couple of weeks working on that aspect, even frequently consulting with long snapper Morgan Cox. He also said that he's been in constant contact with Zuttah, who has given Urschel some tips after watching film of the Rams.
"It's something I work on every day – shotgun snapping – and I work to get better at it," Urschel said. "I am improving. We've changed my mechanics some. I've gotten some help from Morgan. That is what he does, so he is a good person to talk to."
Flacco lamented the loss of Zuttah, but predicted that Urschel was "going to do great."