New center Jeremy Zuttah impresses John Harbaugh with intelligence, quickness

When the Ravens' offense broke the huddle during this week's organized team activities, one of the biggest changes was the first player to touch the football on each play.

The Ravens added Jeremy Zuttah as their new starting center in March, trading a 2015 fifth-round draft pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for him. They signed Zuttah to a five-year, $18 million contract that includes $6.5 million guaranteed with a $3.5 million signing bonus.


So far, the Ravens are happy with their investment.

"Jeremy Zuttah is doing a great job," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He's smart, really smart, really mature, goes about his business in a mature way. I'm just very impressed with how smart he is.


"He's very quick. He's about 305, 306 pounds. He looks good physically in there, but he can move. So, we'll see. It's going to be interesting to watch him play to see if he can prove himself."

Zuttah -- who replaces Gino Gradkowski as the Ravens' starting center -- Zuttah didn't allow a sack last season for the Buccaneers. The 6-foot-4, 308-pounder was the 22nd-ranked center last year, according to Pro Football Focus.

"Toughness," Zuttah said when asked what he'll add to the offense. "I've played a lot of games, experience. Athleticism, I don't think there are as many centers as athletic as I am."

The key for Zuttah, 27, is assimilating to offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's schemes.

"It's going pretty well," Zuttah said. "It's a new offense, so everybody starts on the same page. I'm not  behind. Things are good because we're all learning it together.

"There's some terminology I remember from my rookie year with [former Buccaneers coach Jon] Gruden. The concepts and stuff don't change as much. It's the terminology. As soon as you can adapt and translate it to a different language, you'll pick it up."

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Last season, the Ravens allowed 48 sacks and finished 29th in total offense. They had the 30th-ranked running game during an 8-8 season.

"I'm ready to work," Zuttah said. "In Tampa, we didn't have as much success, obviously, as they've had around here. I'm trying to jump into the winning culture and win some more games than they did last year."


Zuttah started 46 of 48 games for the Buccaneers over the past three seasons and 76 of 90 games in his six-year NFL career. Since being drafted in the third round out of Rutgers in 2008, Zuttah has started 30 games at center, 41 at left guard and five at right guard.

Louis Riddick, a former Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins director of pro personnel\ who now works as an ESPN analyst, said he thinks Zuttah is tailor-made for Kubiak's offense.

"Jeremy's a perfect fit for them," Riddick said. "Based on what Gary Kubiak wants to do with a lot of bootlegs, waggles, designed roll-outs and an outside zone running game, that all plays right to Jeremy's strengths. He's very athletic. He can execute cut-off blocks, get to the second level, pull and finish with aggressiveness.

"He can really move well laterally in pass protection. He can do all the things that won't allow him to get exposed one-on-one as he did at times in the Tampa scheme. If you look at him as a center and guard, he's much better at center. At guard, that's where he got overextended, got up on his toes and didn't have consistent hand usage. He's a natural center."