Gino Gradkowski: 'I have to work for starting spot'

Baltimore Ravens take to field at the Superbowl on February 3, 2013
© AP Photos
Gino Gradkowski says that he will have to work hard in order to replace Matt Birk at centre for the Baltimore Ravens.

Gino Gradkowski has said that he will have to work to secure a place in the Baltimore Ravens' starting lineup.

The centre spent his first year in the NFL being mentored by Matt Birk, who announced his retirement earlier this week.

The 24-year-old told the Ravens' website: "I have mixed feelings. Matt's had a tremendous impact on my life in the last six months. He's just been a great influence on me.

"I was raised to believe that nothing is ever handed to you, and especially at this level. They're going to bring somebody in, and that's fine. I have to work for this spot. The way I see it is there's a job opening. I need to work my butt off this off-season to earn that spot.

"I think I gained a lot of confidence throughout the year. I got really good with the offense, the mental part of it and looking at defenses and things like that. Mentally is where I think I improved most my first year."

Gradkowski did not start a game during 2012 but came off the bench for all 16 regular season fixtures.

Baltimore Ravens take to field at the Superbowl on February 3, 2013
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