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Bradley Bozeman named Ravens’ starting center; top pick Rashod Bateman leaves practice early | NOTES

Bradley Bozeman is the Ravens’ new man in the middle.

Coach John Harbaugh confirmed after Wednesday’s practice, the team’s second of organized team activities and first open to reporters, that Bozeman is “our starting center today.” Bozeman has started the past 32 games at left guard, but he was expected to return to center, where he starred at Alabama, after the team did not draft a player at the position last month.

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Bozeman took the bulk of the repetitions from the shotgun and pistol formations during individual drills Wednesday, and his snaps were solid throughout the practice.

“He’s looking really good,” Harbaugh said. “Two days in, he looks good. ... It doesn’t seem hard for him. He seems very comfortable in there. He’s making the calls. He’s moving very naturally as a center. He’s snapping the ball very well. I think that’s where we’re at. That’ll be our starting point, and moving forward, he’ll be the center. And then we’ll let guys compete from there.”

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Patrick Mekari, who started at center last season after Matt Skura struggled with his snaps, worked at left tackle Wednesday, standing in for the injured Ronnie Stanley. Trystan Colon, Greg Mancz and Ben Bredeson also have experience at center.

“We’ll see where it goes, but I have a lot of confidence in Brad and I think he’s doing a great job and I’m very excited about it, honestly,” Harbaugh said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how this offensive line shapes up.”

Ravens QB Lamar Jackson on contract talks with GM Eric DeCosta over a month ago. He said he's focusing on the upcoming season and not a new deal with the team.

Bateman sidelined

Wide receiver and first-round pick Rashod Bateman left practice early for what Harbaugh called “precautionary” reasons.

Harbaugh said Bateman, who took part in rookie minicamp, was dealing with muscle soreness, seemingly in his lower body, and the team was mindful of risking a soft-tissue injury. Bateman returned for the second half of practice and watched from the sideline.

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“We want to make sure we have recovery,” Harbaugh said. “We’re going to be very precautionary at this time and make sure we get the guys the recovery they need and not too many reps. So that was the idea there. There’s no injury, but we want to make sure it stays that way.”

Extra points

>> Tight end Nick Boyle (knee), cornerback Tavon Young (knee) and fullback Patrick Ricard (hip) were on hand to watch practice. Harbaugh said Boyle “seems like he’s chomping at the bit,” though he doesn’t expect him to return for OTAs. Ricard, meanwhile, should return to individual drills “very soon,” Harbaugh said.

>> Undrafted rookie defensive lineman Xavier Kelly was carted off early in practice after suffering an apparent left leg injury. Kelly played in nine games for Arkansas last season, finishing with eight tackles, one sack and two quarterback hits.

>> After two hours of practice in the high 80s and low 90s, Harbaugh came away impressed with the team’s conditioning. “I don’t think we had anybody not in shape, honestly,” he said. “I felt like our guys really did a great job. They got through it really well. They pushed through it. They practiced fast. They stayed out of the collisions. They just did a really good job.”

>> Had wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown waited until 2022 to change his jersey number from No. 15 to No. 5, he could have saved himself the trouble of buying out the NFL’s remaining merchandise inventory. But he didn’t want to hold off. “I was like, ‘You don’t know what could happen next year, so let’s just get it done now,’ ” he said.

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