Remember Tom Zbikowski? He was the Ravens second 3rd-round draft pick back in 2008, the 86th overall pick, 15 selections after Ozzie Newsome turned in the card for Miami LB Tavares Gooden. Zibby flashed as a playmaker but lacked consistency and eventually fell out of favor with the Ravens coaching staff.
The Athletic’s Dan Pompei posted an insightful piece on the eye-opening story behind the story of Zbikowski’s disappointing NFL career. Here’s an excerpt:
The Ravens chose him in the third round of the draft, making him the 86th overall pick. He showed up to offseason workouts out of shape from too much partying, and he was taken aback by the speed of practices. He didn’t make the best first impression.
In his first three seasons, he was a core special teams player for the Ravens. Then, in his fourth season, he started the first four games.
In his fourth start, a Sunday night game against the Jets, he also was the personal protector on the punt team. He stepped up to block a defensive end who shot the A-gap, and their helmets collided. Tommy lost his equilibrium. He was diagnosed with a concussion, but there was a lot more going on that nobody knew about.
Tommy didn’t want to be blocking for the punter anymore. He thought he had earned the right to be a full-time defensive player. Coach John Harbaugh, Tommy suspected, was looking for a way to phase him out. And the truth was Tommy was looking for a way to phase himself out.
He says he probably didn’t have a concussion, and he faked the symptoms.
“After the game, I had a couple of drunken nights to make it seem I was in a lot worse mental state than I actually was in from the hit,” Tommy said. “It made things seem worse, which gave me more time off.”
He sat out the next two games and never started another for the Ravens.
It’s a worthy read and is yet another example of the human element that affects the performances of these world class athletes – an element that is often overlooked when we sometimes unfairly criticize these men on Sundays in the Fall.
Has there ever been a better Baltimore human highlight reel than the Ravens 2002 first-round draft pick? While we look for distractions from the pandemic, this one is certainly worth your time. Enjoy!
Ed reed is the best free safety of all time . There’s not even a close second pic.twitter.com/xXxMkMRmAy
— john (@iam_johnw) March 30, 2020
The retirement of Marshal Yanda leaves a gaping hole in the Ravens offensive line and there’s little doubt that the Ravens will seek reinforcements in the draft and during the second wave of free agency – a wave that is a bit unpredictable at this time due to COVID-19. Of the remaining available free agent interior offensive linemen is former Raven, Kelechi Osemele.
K.O. can be dominant when healthy but health is something that has eluded Osemele for the better part of two seasons. And as we’ve seen, players with injury concerns have had limited options this offseason due to the inability of teams to fully vet the recovery process of said injuries. That’s why it would be no surprise to see K.O. surface in contract discussions after the 2020 NFL Draft. It would also be no surprise to see him agree to a second tour of duty with the team that made him the 60th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Right player, right price.
And given Osemele’s torn labrum and subsequent surgery, that price could be dropping like the NYSE.
AB in B’more?
It’s no secret that Antonio Brown is the cousin of Ravens WR Marquise Brown. And there’s little doubt that the former Steeler-Raider-Patriot wants back in the NFL. And now, his destination of choice appears to be Charm City.
— g (@LamarJacksonEra) March 7, 2020
As you know, the Ravens signed DE Derek Wolfe to a one-year contract. Here are some highlights from the team’s press release on the squad’s most recent addition.
“Derek is the type of veteran player who fits our defense perfectly,” stated team EVP and GM Eric DeCosta. “He’s been on great teams, he’s versatile, smart, talented and a tough guy. We are so happy that he’s joining our organization.”
Here are several notes about the 6-5, 285-pound Wolfe:
• An eight-year NFL veteran, Wolfe has played in 108 games (all starts), recording 299 tackles, 33 sacks, 15 passes defensed, one interception, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
• Originally selected by the Denver Broncos in the second round of the 2012 draft, Wolfe has played his entire career (2012-19) with Denver prior to signing with the Ravens as an unrestricted free agent.
• Has also started in five postseason contests, including in 2015, when he helped the Broncos to a victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
• In 2019, had a career-best seven sacks, adding 34 tackles (23 solo), one pass defensed and one forced fumble in just 12 games played.
• Started all 16 contests in 2012, becoming one of just two Broncos defensive linemen (Barney Chavous, 1973) to start every game as a rookie.
• Prior to his NFL career, Wolfe played at the University of Cincinnati, where he was named Big East Conference co-Defensive Player of the Year and earned second-team All-American honors as a senior in 2011 after recording 9.5 sacks and ranking first among FBS defensive tackles with 21.5 tackles for a loss.
Welcome to Baltimore, @Derek_Wolfe95❗️
We have signed DE Derek Wolfe to a one-year contract. pic.twitter.com/jXvdMv37Y8
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) March 30, 2020