Ellerbe, who appears to trail Gooden in the inside linebacker hierarchy, provided great underneath coverage in defending a red zone pass from Marc Bulger to David Reed. The second-year linebacker excels in defending the run, but he needs to improve his pass defense to climb into the starting lineup. Ellerbe started the last three games of the regular season and both playoff games to conclude his rookie season.
Tom Zbikowski continues to look very comfortable in place of Ed Reed at the free safety position. He picked off a Joe Flacco pass in the end zone during a red zone drill, though it appeared receiver Anquan Boldin was late in turning his head around on the play. Later in practice, the safety bit on a double-move by Todd Heap in 1-on-1 drills but stripped the football away after Heap made the catch.
He won’t provide the big play capability that Reed has brought throughout his Hall of Fame-caliber career, but I get the sense the Ravens are quite comfortable with Zbikowski filling in at free safety. Of course, it’s easy to say that when it’s only August 4th.