It's official: Zbikowski will get starting nod

Yesterday, I posted an entry which had the headline: "Zbikowski to start at strong safety?"

We can now take away the question mark.

After being informed that Bernard Pollard had announced he'll be coming off the bench this Sunday against the Steelers (comments which can be found in my story from yesterday), Tom Zbikowski confirmed today that he'll get the starting nod in the regular season opener.

"Yeah, that's what we're looking to see," Zbikowski said. "We've got plenty of packages; we'll be rolling in and out. That's not necessarily what's going to happen the entire game or the entire season. It's just where we're at right now. I'll just keep playing, keep getting better. Just worrying about winning more than anything."

When the Ravens signed Pollard to a two-year contract worth a reported $2.7 million during training camp, many assumed it was a clear indicator he would slot in over Zbikowski as the starting strong safety.

Instead, Zbikowski, the Ravens' third-round pick in 2008, will break camp atop the depth chart, something which he said is validation of all the work he put in this offseason.

"It certainly is," Zbikowski said. "The coaches have confidence in me that I know the defense well enough (and) I'm going to make enough plays that I'll be playing a lot."

Pollard is still likely to see plenty of reps, and could be utilized as an extra pass rusher at times. The six-year veteran is considered an effective blitzer, and his physical style of play works well when he steps into the box.

Zbikowski has started 10 games over his three seasons in the NFL, but all 10 of those came in place of free safety Ed Reed, who has missed time over the years with neck and hip injuries. Sunday, he'll line up next to the future Hall of Famer for the first time in a regular season game.

"It means a lot, especially going into this first game," Zbikowski said. "I've played (the Steelers) plenty of times. It feels good. It's something I've been looking forward to, to be able to play alongside Ed, not necessarily just filling in for him all the time."

Does the Notre Dame product feel he did anything special this camp to set himself apart from the competition?

"Just working," Zbikowski said. "I don't know one specific thing or anything like that, but just going about my business like I always do. Training, staying in the film room, staying studying, just making sure I'm on top of everything, and above all, just enjoying playing football. I really think that's the biggest thing is just having fun and enjoying what you're doing every day."

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