Ravens left guard Bradley Bozeman was proud of the effort his team put forth in a 19-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers while down multiple key players due to COVID-19.
Even though the Ravens weren’t victorious against their archrivals, he had a lot of positive takeaways regarding the players who stepped up to fill some big shoes. With Lamar Jackson and other starters out, less experienced players stepped up in the face of adversity. For example, undrafted rookie Trystan Colon-Castillo started at center for the first time this year.
“I’m extremely proud of my teammates. I’m proud of the young guys who stepped up, of our center, who is an undrafted rookie,” Bozeman said on Glenn Clark Radio Dec. 3. “[Colon-Castillo] told me the last ball game he played was Black Friday of last year. So that pays tribute to his work ethic, his desire, his drive to go in and be ready to play the game when his name is called — all with limited practice. This speaks volumes to our young guys and to our guys who stepped up and came in and played a hell of a football game and put ourselves in a position to win it in the end.”
Baltimore was unable to have its usual practices and meetings due to the COVID outbreak, forcing the team to primarily use Zoom for communication and film breakdown. Bozeman said it was very weird having barely any time on the practice field the week before competing, but he said he and his teammates came to play like any other week.
“It was very different than anything I’ve ever experienced in football before, going through a game only having two walkthroughs,” Bozeman said. “But we prepared via Zoom and I think our guys came out hard. They busted their butts. They were ready to play. A lot of young guys stepped up, which was really good. It’s good for their future and their future at the Ravens.”
Preparation was especially difficult for Bozeman and his Ravens given that the outbreak came ahead of a game against the undefeated Steelers. He wished they could’ve had more time to properly prepare for the game, but in the end they had no choice.
Ravens president Dick Cass said that “not everyone at the Ravens followed the [COVID-19] protocol thoroughly,” but Bozeman said playing a season during a pandemic is inherently difficult.
“What happened is what happened. … When you’re playing on the football field, when you’re not able to wear your mask, you’re not able to really socially distance on the football field, it makes it tough,” Bozeman said. “You look at the guys, they’re all niches of people that work together day in and day out. It’s not like everyone is going home [together]. We’re not even allowed to hang out with each other outside of football.”
Bozeman complimented the Ravens organization for putting forth their best effort to make sure the virus didn’t spread any more than it already had, allowing the team to play against the Steelers Dec. 2. He said they are doing just as much, if not more, as every other team in the league.
“We take our extra steps to make sure we are staying safe,” Bozeman said. “I don’t think it was negligence. I just think it happened. We’re dealing with a very contagious virus and it kind of is what it is.”
Against the Dallas Cowboys Dec. 8, the Ravens are set to have Jackson, J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram, among others, available to play again.
In a time when everyone is worried about at-risk family members getting sick from COVID, Bozeman said he and his wife, Nikki, are very lucky to have stayed healthy so far this year. He emphasized how important it is that everyone stays safe and does their part, NFL athlete or not.
“Nikki and I are very fortunate and we’re very healthy. We kind of fit in that category of low-risk, and we’re very fortunate in that aspect,” Bozeman said. “But some guys aren’t. And football is what we do, it’s not who we are. So when we take off the pads, take off the helmets [and] we go home, we’re normal people. So you know a lot of guys we’re struggling with that, with people they have in their households that are high-risk.”
For more from Bozeman, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox