That’s what happened to rookie nose tackle Terrence Cody (left, photo by the Baltimore Sun) at the Ravens’ voluntary passing camp Tuesday. That is, until an eye-opening one-minute span late in the two-plus-hour workout when Cody made his presence known to unassuming bystanders — including Troy Smith — with back-to-back sacks of the backup quarterback.
And boy, were Smith’s eyes open wide on the first one.
During a full-squad drill, Cody, one of the Ravens’ two second-round picks in last month’s draft, crashed through the middle of the offensive line like a pissed-off rhino playing in a preschool game of Red Rover. He reached Smith unabated and leaped at him to swat a potential throw. The defenseless quarterback pump-faked then ate the ball. I was sure he was done for.
Troy Smith’s life flashed through my eyes.
I don’t know how Cody did it — kudos to him for being nimble — but he was able to hit the brakes and stay on his feet without flattening Smith like a cartoon character. Instead, he just bear-hugged him. “There’s nothing he could do, so I just kind of grabbed him,” Cody explained later.
On the next play, when Cody got close enough to put a hand on Smith, there was a quick, telling whistle.
“He’s a great player, man,” an unscathed Smith said at his locker.
Cody may not look good with his shirt off — like, say, Brendon Ayanbadejo or Alyssa Milano — but so far he has impressed during the Ravens’ offseason workouts. Which is kind of surprising considering it looks as if he is trying to smuggle groceries into practice under his purple jersey.
With Donte’ Stallworth zipping around catching passes and Ray Rice darting out of the backfield, shifting your focus elsewhere would be understandable. But Cody (when not sitting out with a hip injury) could be seen clogging up the interior like a humongous dreadlocked hairball.
His ability to disrupt the run game will make him a mainstay at the nose on first and second downs, perhaps as soon as this season. And even though these pad-free workouts are, as Cody put it, “really finesse right now,” his ability to collapse the pocket has been a welcome surprise.
“I feel good just learning things ... I can add to my toolbox,” he said. “Rushing the passer and all that stuff.”
John Harbaugh hasn’t missed what Cody has been up to. He raved about his football IQ, and said the 360-pound rookie has been in the gym just working on his fitness.