Ziemba Pumped About Chance With Panthers

Lee Ziemba talks about getting a shot to win a job in Carolina.

Auburn, Ala.--Lee Ziemba will be the first to admit that the last three days have been nerve-wracking, frustrating and exhilarating all in one. Hoping to be taken in the first three rounds, Ziemba instead found himself taken in one of the compensatory picks following the seventh round on Saturday. No matter when the call came Ziemba said he was very excited to hear the voice of Carolina Coach Ron Rivera.

"It was very tough," Ziemba said. "Those medical records and things they did at the combine aren't released until after the draft. You hear maybe second round but you won't get out of the third. That's what I was hearing pretty much the entire draft process. Then you hear you won't leave the fourth round.

"Then the phone's not ringing and not ringing that Saturday so I head to see my parents and grandparents because I thought the draft was over," he added. "I'm on the phone with a buddy and a weird phone number calls my phone. I thought they were trying to bring me in as a free agent. I answer the phone and it's Coach Rivera. He wants to take me off the board and draft me. I couldn't have been happier."

Starting 51 consecutive games at Auburn, earning All-American honors, and winning the Jacobs Award as the SEC's top blocker, Ziemba was a player many thought would have a chance to be drafted fairly early when the season began. His play this past season definitely didn't hurt his chances, but testing at the combine and worries about past injuries was what Ziemba said he believes hurt him with the NFL guys.

"I had that knee issue in 2008 and that could have possibly been the reason why," Ziemba said. "It could have scared some teams away. It's all in the past and I'm going to move forward."

Ziemba said he had an idea that Carolina could be his destination after speaking with Rivera several times over the past few months. Knowing that he'll have a chance to play with Cam Newton once again is something that makes playing for the Panthers even more exciting.

"I had spoken with Coach Rivera a couple of times," Ziemba said. "He just told me he was trying to get back to an old school football team. He was picking my brain about Cam a little bit. Things like that. That was one of the things that kind of tipped me.

"I'm excited," he added. "The guy is a good player. It's going to be fun to get to block for him again."

Something that could help Ziemba earn a roster spot on the next level is his ability to play either the left or right tackle spot, both of which he did at Auburn.

"It definitely helps and of course I played right tackle in the senior bowl," Ziemba said. "I performed well there. I'm really excited to get a chance to continue to play ball. I love this game. It's going to be a fun ride.

"I'm going back to Auburn this week and start training," Ziemba added. "I have a great opportunity now to grab a right tackle spot this year at Carolina. I'm going to start working on my right side and hopefully grab a starting job this fall."

Although things didn't work out the way he had hoped, Ziemba is one of the fortunate few that knows his destination once the NFL lockout is over with. Until he can report and begin working with his new team Ziemba said he'll just concentrate on working hard so he can pay back the franchise that took a shot on him.

"I'm just real excited for the opportunity," Ziemba said. "It was a long wait. Some things happened that caused me to slip a little bit, but the Panthers picked me up. I'm so excited for the opportunity. I'm going to do my best to be the best player I can possibly be."


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