BR.com wants to use the Hey Rookie! blog as a way to let every rookie on the roster tell a little bit about their story. We'll have different voices speaking to you throughout the season.
Rookie saftey Tom Zbikowski checks back to the rookie blog as the Ravens prep for their Wild Card matchup with Miami.
So last week, I was back there returning a few kickoffs. That was fun. I just got some work earlier in the year, kind of just getting a feel for it. I guess I added some extra depth, and the time finally came when they needed me. Kickoffs are different than punts, which I returned all the time in college. Punts you get a right return, a middle return or a left return. It's not really like a certain hole or a certain seam you're looking for. With a punt you kind of have a little more freedom to do your own thing. With a kickoff - they're blocking a certain way, and if you don't hit it, you're going to get laid out. Fortunately, I didn't.
But you've seen me play on defense all year. Rex [Ryan] uses some crazy packages, like with seven defensive backs and things like that. At Notre Dame, I think we got to maybe a six DBs, but not this. He just finds so many ways to get different calls. It could be the same call, but just in four or five different groups, different personnel groupings. It's easy for us to learn, but difficult for an offense to be able look at it. A lot of times you look at what personnel's on the field and what they do out of the personnel. For us, it's what a lot a guys are used to. But, when one or two guys switch up what their role is on that play or something, and offense really can't pick that up. There's no way of seeing it. That's a lot of fun.
Now that we're in the playoffs, I can't really look back on my rookie year yet, though. I think it's going to come when you look back and watch film from the beginning to see how you were in OTAs to where you are now. It do feel that I've gotten better because now I'm not thinking as much where you're going to play and all the technique and stuff.
Some of that comes from playing with the guys we have here. The biggest thing that Ed [Reed] talks about is knowing where your help is. I think that's where his ability to make so many plays comes from. He knows where there's help and where there is no help. People might say that he's making unnecessary risks, but they're calculated risks. He knows where he's going. He knows why on certain plays he's going to jump and turn around.
It has been a long year though. I was getting ready for the Combine at this time last year. It's been even longer than that when I haven't been playing football or training. You've got to take it all the way back to August 2007. I took about a week or two off after my last season, and then I went straight into training for the Combine. After the Combine I took maybe a week off and then got ready for Pro Day.
At this point, there's too much at stake to think about anything else to think about taking a break. I mean, your body just wants to rest, but with an opportunity like this, you've got to forget about that and keep playing. I mean, you never know. It's never guaranteed if you're going to get back into the playoffs. Some teams never even get a chance at a Super Bowl.
I wouldn't have believed we would get here when I was first drafted. I remember that whole year when the Ravens won the Super Bowl. I didn't watch every game, but just followed their defense. I was a big fan of the Bears, and I was mad because they were getting compared to the '85 Bears and everything. So then you start seeing these guys are for real, and their offense is just literally scoring no points in the game. And you're like, "How are they still winning?" Like two field goals win a game. It's got to be nice on an offense to score two field goals and win.
But once we started playing in the preseason, we knew there was a lot of talent on this team and we could win. Even though we were rookies and sitting in separate locker rooms at training camp, we were just that physically talented. I really think everybody knew we were going to be good.
Heading to Miami, we look at it the way we've approached any other game - it's take care of business, keep playing the way we've been playing. Obviously, it's been working. We don't want to change anything up or add any pressure or do anything different. We just want to keep going the way we've been going.
It's going to be fun.
- Tom Zbikowski