Having played in Tampa since he entered the league in 2008 as a third-round draft pick out of Rutgers, new Ravens center Jeremy Zuttah is excited to become a Baltimore Raven.
Zuttah has a fond memory of the time he played here in 2010 as part of a visiting Buccaneers team. Though his squad lost to the Ravens 17-10 on that November Sunday, he found himself amazed by the energy level of the crowd.
“I remember the defensive intros that day and the way the whole crowd went crazy when Ray Lewis did his dance is something I won’t ever forget,” Zuttah recalled.
Having passed his physical today, his trade becomes finalized and Zuttah will now call Baltimore home. His focus is already on the upcoming season and being the versatile player the Ravens expect him to be.
When asked what he will bring to a Ravens offensive line that struggled in 2013, Zuttah stated simply, “athleticism and toughness.” Having played in 90 career games (76 starts), Zuttah has proven to be both of those things. More importantly, those two traits are exactly what the team will need in new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s offense.
As expected with the hiring of Kubiak and the retention of Juan Castillo the Ravens 2014 offense will be heavily centered around a zone blocking scheme.
“We ran more inside than outside in Tampa but there was a good amount of outside zone blocking though,” Zuttah stated. “I watched a lot of Houston Texans film over the years so I’m familiar with how they do it.”
In coming to a new team and new system sometimes new terminology can be tough to pick up but between now and when it counts, Zuttah doesn’t really see it as a big deal.
“There is a lot of overlap,” he explained. “A lot of the stuff is similar it’s just called something else. It’s just getting used to the new terms and other than that it won’t take much time.”
Zuttah will certainly have his hands full when it comes to opposing defenses he will face in the AFC North. With Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and the Browns having formidable pass rushers, Zuttah, who is listed as 6-4 and a stout 309, will have his work cut out for him.
“I just got to get on them before they can get a head of steam on you,” Zuttah responded when asked about how difficult it will be to block big-bodied defensemen. “The bigger guys, once they get you going it’s tough, so better to do it before they can get started.”
John Harbaugh said at the owners meeting in Orlando that Zuttah was brought in to play center, and brings with him the three most desirable traits any NFL center must have: intelligence, toughness, and athleticism.
“You have to be intelligent, you have to a leader and tell everybody what to do and make sure everyone is on the same page,” Zuttah said when asked what it takes to be a good center. “You also have to be tough, there is a lot of big bodies there in the middle and you have to be able to control them. You also have to be athletic. You have to run around and get to that second level.”
Adding Zuttah to the offensive line will not only reunite him with his friend Eugene Monroe, but also with Ray Rice, for whom he blocked during their playing days at Rutgers.
I asked him if he had any funny stories about Rice to share from their time in college.
“There’s been so many funny stories of Ray over the years but the funniest is when he starts talking like he does during games,” Jeremy laughed.
Jeremy comes to Baltimore as a little bit of an unknown player, but Ravens fans need not worry. What can we expect from Zuttah?
“I am going to give them everything I have for as long as I’m here which hopefully is a long, long time. You won’t have to question my effort or what kind of mentality I am trying to bring to the game out there.”
While a few moves could still be made to fill out the final pieces of the offensive line this offseason, Zuttah seems up for the challenge of being a part of the solution to some of the problems we saw last year.
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