New Orleans Saints quarterback Andy Dalton told Cesar Ruiz that moving from right guard to center during the second quarter on Monday night against Baltimore, to replace the injured Erik McCoy while the Saints were operating their two-minute drill, was like riding a bike for Ruiz, who played center exclusively before being drafted by the Saints in in 2020.
Probably that's accurate – if there's at least one person standing in front of the rider who's grabbing his shirt and pulling his arms, clubbing him with forearms and doing everything in his power to knock the rider off the bike.
But it wasn't the first time that Ruiz has had to make the move for the Saints; he did so last year in the season opener against Green Bay, when McCoy was injured, and filled in for the next four games. So sliding over on Monday night (Calvin Throckmorton came in to play right guard) wasn't a monumental step at all for Ruiz, who was an All-American center at Michigan.
"It's cool," Ruiz said. "I was more concerned if Erik was all right than with me having to go play center. I was making sure he was good. But having to switch, it's not a problem.
"It's definitely good that if they need me to go do it, I can go do it. I've done it so long that it's not really like, 'What do I do?' I know what to do. And just being able to go in and fill in right there, it's no discomfort. Just playing ball, really."
Ruiz possibly will remain in the position for at least another game; McCoy did not participate in practice Thursday due to his calf injury.
But there were no reported glitches during the process.
"Cesar, fortunately, grew up playing center," Dalton said. "So he's got a good feel for just snapping the ball, making calls and all the things that go into it. We're very fortunate that we had Cesar to be able to just step in and not miss a beat, from that standpoint."
"No communication glitches," Ruiz said. "But I'm in there with Erik so much. All week, everybody is honed in on the Mike points and assignments. Basically, my thing is I want to replicate how fast Erik does it, and communicate as well as he does. That way it's not like, hey, this is a little different for everybody else. Try to make it the same, exact way he did."
Ruiz said even though he exclusively has worked at right guard, he was able to prepare mentally to play center.
"During the week in practice, it's mental reps, because I know that in the event something like that did happen, I would have to go in," he said. "Every week I'm studying both positions, making sure I know what's going on in the event something like that happens.
"Whatever I've got to do, whatever we've got to do – whatever group we've got – let's go do it. There's no time to be like, 'Oh, man, here we go.' Nah, we've got to go do it. There's no time to sit back and look at the bad things."