Ravens Cody tackles stamina in NFL debut
By DAVID GINSBURG, AP Sports Writer 32 minutes ago
BALTIMORE (AP)—Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Terrence Cody(notes) showcased his stamina and run-stopping ability on full display during his unofficial NFL debut.
In a preseason game against Carolina on Thursday night, the 6-foot-4, 350-pound rookie played into the third quarter and finished with four tackles and an assist in hot, humid weather.
His performance should quell questions about his conditioning—for now.
His play at fullback, however, still needs work.
Drafted out of out Alabama in the second round with the 57th overall pick, Cody created a stir at training camp when he twice failed the conditioning test. He passed on the third try, then earned the nickname “Cheeseburger” from teammate Haloti Ngata(notes) during his first practice.
All that was forgotten after Baltimore’s 17-9 victory.
Cody said the coaching staff told him two nights before the game to “drink a lot of water” because he was to get a lot of playing time. “I kept by condition really well,” he said.
Cody’s first official tackle of the preseason came when he collared DeAngelo Williams(notes) for a 1-yard loss with 5:19 left in the first quarter.
“It felt good,” Cody said. “I wanted to celebrate, but my shoe came off and I had to come off the field.”
Unfortunately, his first mention on the play-by-play sheet occurred during Baltimore’s opening drive. Lined up at fullback in the goal-line package, Cody flinched and was called for a false start on a third-and-3.
“That was a new experience for me in the NFL,” he said. “When we do it again, hopefully I can do it a lot better.”
Cody played nose guard at Alabama for two years. He started 26 games, twice earned All-SEC honors and helped the Crimson Tide win the national championship last season.
That dazzling ledger is of no use to Cody in Baltimore, where he’s nothing more than an eager rookie trying to bring something extra to a defense long considered to be among the NFL’s finest. On Thursday, he made a very good first impression.
“He made some plays in some big situations,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He really made some stops. He took control of the middle pretty well.”
Ngata said, “He did a great job. In the beginning he was kind of slow to get off some blocks, but toward the end he got used to being out there and made some plays.”
The result of preseason games are meaningless, but they do serve a purpose. In Cody’s case, it was an introduction to pressure and speed associated with playing in the NFL.
“After my first snap, I got the jitters out and started making plays,” he said. “Everything was moving fast. The game was moving fast. It’s a whole lot different than college. But once I settled down, that’s when instincts kicked in and I started doing what I do.”
On draft day, Cody was happy to be selected by the Ravens but disappointed he didn’t go until late in the second round. Now he’s the focal point of Baltimore’s 2010 draft because top pick Sergio Kindle(notes) of Texas is out indefinitely with a fractured skull.
Kindle, an outside linebacker, was supposed to aid the pass rush. Cody is the designated run-stopper, a job he handled capably in his debut.
“I was running around the field, making plays on every snap,” Cody said. “That’s going to be the memory: Playing hard, playing for the Ravens and playing in my first NFL game—even if it was a preseason game.