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Another Free Safety Won’t Hurt Zbikowski

Ken Hamlin brings another playmaker, but Tom Zbikowski has claim on the top backup position at this point.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Categories: Mike Duffy

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The Ravens’ safety position got a little more crowded this week with the addition of former Pro Bowler Ken Hamlin, but that’s not worrying Tom Zbikowski.

At this point prior to training camp, Zbikowski would likely be the one starting next to strong safety Dawan Landry with uncertainty surrounding Ed Reed’s return.

Baltimore’s top backup on the back end thinks the signing is a good move considering how the Ravens use their safeties.

“We can always use guys that can do a lot of things, and a lot of times, those guys are safeties,” Zbikowski said. “It adds another solid, starting-caliber safety that will help out our secondary and the entire defense.  When you look at how our safeties play, it’s special teams, in coverage, in the box.

“Hopefully, he can jump in there with us.”

While Hamlin could affect Zbikowski’s playing time because both largely play free safety, Zbikowski is far ahead of Hamlin when it comes to knowledge of the Ravens’ defense.

“I played a year at Notre Dame at free, and that was probably the best year I had,” the former third-round draft pick explained.  ”And, it’s been a blessing spending three years learning from Ed Reed since I got to the NFL.  It’s going to be a good competition.”

While the team has expressed its confidence that No. 20  will be back next season, the Ravens still haven’t heard Reed will definitively return as he recovers from a hip procedure.

Last year, Zbikowski logged four starts when Reed was out with hip, ankle and groin injuries, posting two interceptions as the Ravens’ secondary didn’t miss a beat.  Even with Reed, Zbikowski saw ample time in the Ravens’ dime package, which brings a third safety onto the field.

“Me and Haruki [Nakamura] played a lot of dime with the third safety position, kind of rotating when to give the offense a couple of different looks.  But, any of the safeties could be in there.  We all blitz, patrol the middle, play the run, drop in coverage.

“You’ve got to be able to do it all.”

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