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Inside Answers: Tom Zbikowski


For the latest edition of Inside Answers, where we've taken questions from fans and brought them to a top performer in the Ravens' most-recent game.

Here's safety Tom Zbikowski with his answers to your questions.

[Ed. note: Questions may have been edited for clarity.]

Mike Zimmerman, Dover, Del.:I saw Ed Reed talking to you on the sideline a lot in Green Bay. What was he saying and what's he like as a coach?

Zbi:"He is literally a coach on the field when he's out there. He does that for a lot of guys. He understands the game better than most players. He probably understands the offense better than some quarterbacks do. So, having him on the sideline, it just shows you what kind of teammate he is. A lot of guys would only give you a comment every once in a while, but Ed was always saying, 'Watch play action,' or, 'Screen.' All that stuff. He knew it was my first start. You're concentrating on not messing up and not letting your teammates down, so it was a good help to keep me focused the whole game."

Stephen Shaker, Baltimore:When did you find out that you were going to have your first NFL start? How long before the game was it and how did you feel about it? Let's make a playoff push!

Zbi:"I was practicing with the ones all week, but I thought Ed would be ready come game time. I went to get taped and all the pre-game stuff. When I came back, Ed told me about 20 minutes before we went out for warm-ups. It was maybe like an hour and a half before the game. I'm almost glad it happened that way. Now, I'm not worrying about any of the outside stuff. It was Monday night, nationally televised. One of the better quarterbacks in the league and a great offense. That's a big stage for your first start."

Whitney Jackson, Glen Burnie, Md.:Hi Tom. I thought you played great in your first start. My question is: What is it like playing at Lambeau Field, especially being from nearby Chicago?

Zbi:"It being the Packers, it was close to home. Wisconsin has some history with my family, because when my dad got into sales, a lot of his business was in Wisconsin. Any time I went on the road with him, he knew that nothing would pique my interest as much as anything to do with sports. There's nothing up there but the Packers, so he took me and my brother to the Packers Hall of Fame. We'd been around it, and I was only 6 or 7 years old. For me, it was cool to be back there playing."

Marcus Crestfells, Baltimore:What was going through your mind when you saw the long fly ball headed for you in the Packers game?

Zbi:"I knew I was going to be tested, and for some reason, I felt there would be one play where I could prove that I can play. I wanted to prove that they drafted me for a reason. So when I saw the ball there, I had good depth. I wanted to make sure I caught the ball before I even thought about a return. It's like anything else, once the game's going on, it's just another football in the air. It's not like you're looking to see who's going to get it. You have to go get it yourself."

Cassie Carlson, New Lenox, Ill.: I know that you used to be a quarterback. How come you decided to stay at the safety position?

Zbi:"I just figured with my height, the best chance of me making it to the NFL was to be either a receiver or a safety and not quarterback. When I decided to go to Notre Dame, they wanted me to play defensive back, so I went and played defensive back. I had a couple of offers from Northwestern and some of the MAC schools to play quarterback, and if I had been a year or two older, I probably could have gone to Nebraska when Eric Crouch left. But that's a tough position to pass up. When you're a quarterback, you always have the ball in your hands, you're making plays and scoring touchdowns. You definitely can affect the outcome of games."

Jason Cosento, Chicago:What do you think about the whole Charlie Weis situation at Notre Dame?

Zbi:"He understands it better than anyone, being a student there, how much it's talked about and how much is expected out of the program. When you have three years like that, he knew things weren't going to end well and they would probably make a change. I don't know much about the names that are being thrown around, though."

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