OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — In his second year with the Baltimore Ravens, defensive tackle Terrence Cody is playing as efficiently he did at Alabama instead of just talking smack about his alma mater.
After helping the Crimson Tide win the 2010 national championship, Cody was drafted in the second round (57th overall) by Baltimore. He started only one game as a rookie, in part because he was too heavy and did not work hard enough to become a better player.
Distraught over his lack of playing time, Cody called teammate Ray Lewis during the offseason.
“I kind of told him, `Just be patient. Your time is coming. Just make sure you work hard in the offseason,”‘ Lewis recalled
Cody followed the veteran’s advice. He cut out late-night snacks, worked out every day and shed 25 pounds from his 350-pound frame.
“I knew I couldn’t contribute an entire game at that weight,” Cody said.
And then, just as Lewis predicted, Cody got his chance to shine.
Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome cut veteran nose tackle Kelly Gregg just before the start of training camp, and Cody was suddenly in the starting lineup.
He’s been there ever since.
“Last year, Terrence was the epitome of a rookie. He talked about Alabama all the time,” Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson said. “This year, man, he has worked so hard. He looks great. I think he’s playing at a weight that’s perfect for what he does.”
What Cody does is jam the line so that Baltimore’s exceptional linebackers can step up and make the tackle. It is a role that was filled previously by such stalwarts as Tony Siragusa, Sam Adams and Gregg.
Cody has only five tackles in four games, but his effectiveness cannot be measured by his personal numbers. With Cody and Haloti Ngata in the middle of the defensive front, opposing linemen can expect to be backpedaling even when they’re not in pass protection.
“He dominates in there quite a bit,” coach John Harbaugh said of Cody. “He’s big, he’s athletic, he is moving so well, he stays square, he doesn’t get cut off, he doesn’t get reached and he makes plays.”
Said Johnson: “Kelly Gregg was as good at taking on blockers as there is in football, but I’d say Cody is doing a good job filling in where Kelly left off.”
At Alabama, Cody had 52 tackles in two seasons. In Baltimore, he’s being asked to be a brick wall instead of a headhunter.
“It was an adjustment for me because when I was at Alabama I played nose guard,” Cody said. “We made a lot of plays at nose at Alabama, but in this system the idea is to keep 52 (Lewis) and the other linebackers fresh and untouched.”
The job is not as simple as it sounds.
“Everybody thinks you just take a big, strong guy and stick him at nose tackle and he’s going to be good,” Johnson said. “That’s not true. You’ve got to know how to play leverage. You’ve got to see the backfield and how to lean which way to anticipate the block. He’s learning all that stuff, and he’s light years better than he was last year.”
After losing the weight during the offseason, Cody finished his personal overhaul by working hard off the field.
“It’s different for me this year. Now that I’m one of the starters, I’m staying late at the facility, getting in the cold
tub, the hot tub, staying in at night, watching more film,” he said. “I’m finally becoming a pro this year. My personality didn’t change; I still fool around, play around, goof around. But when it comes down to watching film, that’s when I really buckle down.”
His dedication has made an impression on the 36-year-old Lewis.
“For him to be as energetic as he is, he is so that guy that you want in front of you because he takes pride in what he does,”
About the only drawback of Cody’s new look is that he might have to look for a new nickname to replace “Mount Cody,” a moniker he received at Alabama because of his huge frame.
“I like that name. I’d like it to stick,” Cody said. “but I’m not built like a Mount anymore.”
In other news, Ravens center Matt Birk plans to appeal a $5,000 fine he received from the NFL for removing a microphone from his shoulder pads.
The NFL requires centers or offensive guards to wear microphones.
“I will appeal,” Birk said. “I understand the rules. I’ve worn a microphone before. When I went out for warmups, the
microphone came loose and was jabbing my neck. It was tucked in there pretty tight. I couldn’t get it, so I just took it off. I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to do that.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)