Juan Castillo: A.Q. Shipley To Start Thursday

A.Q. Shipley will start Thursday's preseason game against the Falcons. - Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The center position battle is heating up as A.Q. Shipley will start this Thursday's preseason game against Atlanta.

Gino Gradkowski started the preseason opener and generally begins each practice with the first team.

However, A.Q. Shipley has had his fair share of reps, which has prompted the coaches to give him a shot at the starting job this Thursday when the Ravens host the Atlanta Falcons.

"They're really doing a good job," run-game coordinator Juan Castillo told reporters after Tuesday's practice. "We're going to just ... The games are very important. Gino started last week with Joe [Flacco]. This week, A.Q. will do that. Probably in the third game we'll split them up, and then we'll make a decision."

There you have it. Two centers, two weeks, one starting job.

During practice it's hard to judge a center contest given there's no tackling and guys can't go a full 100 percent. Regardless, it would appear this competition is more even than we might have thought.

During his time in front of reporters, coach John Harbaugh downplayed the aspect that Gradkowski and Shipley were competing against each other, even though they both -- as football players -- want to start and have to prove they're worthy of that role against each other in practice.

"Their competition is really against the nose guard or the linebacker or the defense, whoever it might be," Harbaugh said. "But they’re both playing really well, so that’s a good thing for the Ravens. We’ll just have to see how it plays out in the next couple weeks as far as who earns the starting spot."

Follow me on twitter: @JasonHButt

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