Miller Joins Zbi In Punt Return Battle

Despite a rough outing Monday, Zbikowski inspires trust with his ability to secure punts.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Categories: Mike Duffy

In bringing back Prince Miller on Wednesday, the Ravens added a player with punt-return potential.

And because Tom Zbikowski had a rough night returning punts against the New York Jets, Miller could see some time returning punts Sunday in Cincinnati.

“Obviously that’s part of our idea with [signing Miller],” said Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh. “Whether he can do that this week or not, I don’t know. Probably wouldn’t give it to you anyway. But obviously that’s something that he does. I’m sure [the Bengals will] prepare for him being back there.”

Miller, who was signed from the New England Patriots’ practice squad after spending the preseason with Baltimore, returned one punt 57 yards in the Ravens’ preseason opener.

There is some trepidation plugging Miller in, however.

The undrafted free agent muffed a punt that rolled into the end zone in their preseason finale. The Ravens recovered the fumble, but ball security remains a concern.

“He’s a rookie; they’ll feel like if he is back there, they can take the ball away from him,” Harbaugh said of Miller.

Facing the Jets’ swarming coverage teams, Zbikowski had four returns for a total of five yards. But one thing the Ravens know about Zbikowski is that he will maintain possession.

They would just like to see Zbikowski move past a poor decision in the Jets game.

In the third quarter of the Jets game, Zbikowski waited on the 15-yard line for a Steve Weatherford punt. The high-arcing kick backed Zbikowski to the 5, and he ran to his right along the goal line, eventually getting tackled at the 1 and nearly giving up a safety.

“That’s what I like about ‘Zibby’ – he’s going to be secure with the ball,” said Harbaugh. “But he’s got to go north and south instead of going sideways.”

Zbikowski, whose three punt returns for touchdowns tied a Notre Dame record, said he lost track of his surroundings.

“I didn’t know I was that deep,” he explained. “I was drifting back and a little to the left. I took a chance on that one, but you learn from those things.”

For now, NFL rules dictate that Miller must remain on the active roster for three weeks because he came off another team’s practice squad.

“One of those two guys will be back there,” said Harbaugh. “The bottom line is we catch the ball first and run that way, and we’ll be fine.”

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