Thomas named Ravens Lineman of the Year

HAGERSTOWN - Adalius Thomas was designated to shadow Michael Vick last season. The Baltimore Ravens defensive end wasn't intimidated despite the athleticism displayed ad infinitum on highlight reels of the Atlanta Falcons quarterback. By the end of the game last November at the Georgia Dome, Vick and the Falcons had their 20-17 victory. Thomas had one sack, a share of another, three solo tackles, a pass deflection and a forced fumble.

Vick had rushed for minus-5 yards, was sacked three times and tossed his first interception of the year.

"You can't be intimidated when you play against a great athlete like Michael Vick," said Thomas upon receiving a Lineman of the Year award Saturday night from the Tri-State Ravens Nest. "You just keep him in front of you, react to his moves and play football."

During training camp, Thomas' original hybrid role between outside linebacker and end in the Ravens' 3-4 defensive alignment morphed into more of a pure end role. Although Thomas occasionally dropped into coverage, he spent the majority of his time at the line of scrimmage wrestling with offensive tackles who outweighed him by 40 to 80 pounds.

"It doesn't really matter which position I play," Thomas said. "I prefer playing whichever one helps us win."

In 12 starts last year, the 6-foot-2, 270-pounder collected 68 tackles, three sacks, 11 pass deflections, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He also intercepted two passes and returned a Jon Kitna pass for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"We didn't move Adalius back to end because he failed at outside linebacker," Ravens defensive line coach Rex Ryan said. "We moved him back there because I came into Brian Billick's office and told him, 'I need A.D. back at end, because I don't have anyone else that plays like him.' He's a special player and he makes special plays."

As a restricted free agent, Thomas has yet to sign the Ravens' one-year tender offer of $605,000. He expects to eventually sign for those terms, as reserve quarterback Anthony Wright reportedly did last week.

Because of Thomas' restricted status, any team that wanted to sign him would have to be willing to surrender a sixth-round pick as compensation. The Ravens would have the right to match any offer sheet, making overtures for Thomas an unlikely scenario.

"Nobody wants to do the Ravens' work for them by doing a contract," Thomas said. "I would love to stay in Baltimore because it's a first-class organization, but this is just the business side of football.

"The Ravens have to take care of their family and I have to take care of mine. I'm sure I'll be back."

NOTES: Highly-regarded Marshall University quarterback Byron Leftwich auditioned for the NFL on Monday at a high school in Bradenton, Fla. A large gathering of NFL personnel, including Ravens coach Brian Billick and general manager Ozzie Newsome, watched the 6-6, 242-pound Leftwich run the 40-yard dash between 4.85 and 4.92 seconds and perform passing drills, according to

Leftwich reportedly answered medical question marks surrounding a left leg he had fractured twice, moving well laterally and adeptly dropping back from under center. Leftwich is a top candidate to become the top overall pick of Marvin Lewis' Cincinnati Bengals along with Heisman Trophy winner and USC quarterback Carson Palmer.

Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs' addition of defensive end Vonnie Holliday may narrow the field for free agent outside linebacker Jamir Miller to the Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Cleveland Browns, Miller's old team, remain a long shot.

According to agent Leigh Steinberg, Miller is likely to make a decision this week.

Ravens Insider Top Stories