Live from Owings Mills: C. Williams, J. Smith work with starting defense

August 14, 2011 | Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens had their full allotment of cornerbacks on the practice field Sunday, making the two players working with the first defense all the more surprising.

Rookie Jimmy Smith and third-year defensive back Cary Williams played extensively with the starting defense as Chris Carr and Lardarius Webb — the starters in the preseason opener — rotated inside in nickel and dime packages. Veteran Domonique Foxworth practiced on a limited basis but did not take reps in 11-on-11 team sessions as he continues to work his way back to full strength from ACL surgery a year ago.

Smith’s involvement with the starting defense should not surprise too many people, given the fact that the Ravens viewed him as a top-10 talent when they selected him with the 27th overall pick in April. However, seeing the 6-foot-1 Williams work with the first unit was a product of his strong play in camp and performance against the Eagles last Thursday.

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“A guy deserves an opportunity,” coach John Harbaugh, who wanted to get a look at how Williams and Smith fit with the rest of the starting defense. “He’s played really well, and we try to do that. We always say the best guys play the most, and he’s earned that. It’s nothing against anybody else. I think everybody’s played well, but we’ll see how he looks in there and see how he does.”

It’s important to remember this was only one practice, but the sheer size of Williams (6-foot-1) and Smith (6-foot-2) would be an intriguing element before you even factor in their impressive athleticism. Regardless of whether Williams finds himself on the field on Sept. 11 or this was simply a cameo appearance, it’s pretty apparent that his roster spot is pretty safe after most expected him to compete with rookie Chykie Brown for the fifth cornerback job.

Visit the Audio Vault to hear more from John Harbaugh following Sunday’s practice.