Before Sunday's game in Chicago, it dawned on rookie fullback Kyle Juszczyk that it had been over a year since he actually carried the football in a live regular-season football game.
He wondered what it would be like, and whether he would have to shake off any rust when an opponent was coming to tackle him.
"I guess I kind of answered that," Juszczyk said with a laugh Wednesday.
At the start of overtime, with Soldier Field torn to smithereens, Juszczyk figured there was a good chance that the Bears could squib their kickoff and he would at last get his chance to handle the pigskin.
"I told myself that if I got the ball, I was going to hit somebody. I was trying to make a statement," he said.
Boy, did he.
Juszczyk scampered eight yards and saw Bears safety Craig Steltz coming head on at him. Juszczyk lowered his shoulder pads and Steltz lowered his head. The Ravens fullback creamed the safety with his forearms, sending Steltz tumbling backwards.
It was literally a knockout blow.
"I didn't even think to try to make him miss. I was just going to hit him," Juszczyk said. "I knew it was a big hit, but I didn't realize how big it was until I saw him try to stand up and he just fell. I was like, 'Wow, that just happened.'"
His biggest hit ever?
"Yeah, anytime you knock somebody out," he said. "He was in another world."
Fullbacks have a lot of big collisions over their careers. But Juszczyk isn't your traditional fullback. He's more of an H-back who can also split out more as a tight end and serve as a weapon in the passing game. He's the fullback of the new generation of football.
The Ravens nearly went with Juszczyk as their starter this season, but brought back Vonta Leach during the summer when it looked like Juszczyk needed some more polishing as a lead blocker. So the rookie takes any chance to prove he's not afraid of contact.
"I wanted to show that I am a fullback, so I've got to hit somebody at some point," he said.
The knockout blow was approved by Leach.
"That was a nice hit," the Pro Bowl fullback said. "He was the hammer and not the nail."
This season has been a growing process for Juszczyk as he waits his turn for a larger offensive role and studies under Leach. He's been targeted by just one pass (in Miami) that went incomplete. But he's been active for all 10 games and played on all the special teams units.
He's enjoyed playing special teams because it brings him back to his high school roots when he got to hit people as a middle linebacker.
"It's a little different," said Juszczyk of his decreased role. "But as a rookie, you kind of have to roll with the punches and accept the role that you're given. I've fully embraced* *my special teams role and tried to put everything into that."