Kick return unit places emphasis on being safe over being sorry

One kick return for 26 yards and four touchbacks lead to uneventful day

November 22, 2011|By Edward Lee

Unlike last Sunday, there were no blatant miscues on kick returns in the Ravens’ 31-24 win against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.

Tom Zbikowski returned one kick for 26 yards, and Chris Carr and Lardarius Webb split four touchbacks. While not earth-shattering, those results were much better received than David Reed’s two lost fumbles in the 22-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 13.

For Zbikowski who got drilled by Bengals safety Taylor Mays on his lone return, returning a kick for the first time in about a year was about regaining a feel for the assignment.

“I felt good,” Zbikowski said. “I think normally if it wasn’t my first one, I probably would’ve held back the one that I took, but I wanted to just get it rolling, get a feel for it today, get my rep and get the nerves out and hold onto the ball and feel comfortable that a collision like that is not going to spring the ball loose. So it’s a confidence builder. I wasn’t going into it expecting a touchdown on my first play. I just wanted to get it rolling again.”

After the game, Zbikowski wrapped a large bag of ice around his right knee, but said the knee was just sore. He acknowledged that the soreness led to the decision by the team to have Carr and Webb take over kick returns.

“I wasn’t feeling too good cutting and I didn’t want to put our team at a disadvantage,’ Zbikowski said. “So I played through it, and hopefully, they’ll have confidence in me to put me back there again.”

Zbikowski wasn’t sure whether he would be returning kicks against the San Francisco 49ers on Thanksgiving night, but he joined teammates Torrey Smith and Terrell Suggs in publicly supporting Reed, who was deactivated for Sunday’s contest.

“David is an unbelievable returner,” Zbikowski said. “That could happen to anybody. It’s not like he can’t do it.”

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