Ravens suddenly hurting at cornerback with loss of Jimmy Smith

September 12, 2011 | Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The cornerback position was one of the Ravens’ deepest units entering the season, and they’ll have use that depth after losing two corners in Sunday’s win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Rookie Jimmy Smith and veteran Chris Carr left the game in the first half and did not return. However, the high ankle sprain sustained by Smith on the kickoff following the Ravens’ first touchdown is considered the more serious of the two. Carr once again aggravated a left hamstring injury that’s lingered for four weeks.

Smith remained on crutches and a walking boot on Monday after an MRI revealed a high ankle sprain. The 27th overall pick in April’s draft is expected to miss a “few weeks” in the words of coach John Harbaugh.

“We’ll just have to see how it plays out,” Harbaugh said. “Hopefully, he’s a quick healer. That was a tough one. Hey, first kickoff, he runs down there, he’s fighting like crazy, and gets caught up in a pile.”

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With Smith leaving the game after the opening kickoff and Carr exiting in the second quarter, the Ravens mainly used the combination of starter Cary Williams and Lardarius Webb, with Domonique Foxworth — continuing to work his way back to full strength himself — entering to play corner in nickel and dime packages. At one point during Sunday’s game, Williams left the game due to cramping, leaving the Ravens with only two healthy corners available (rookie Chykie Brown was a gameday inactive). As a result, safety Haruki Nakamura filled in at the nickel spot.

Carr continues to deal with a hamstring issue sustained while covering receiver Lee Evans on a deep route in practice on Aug. 15. The veteran has practiced on a limited basis at several different points, but the team has been cautious with his workload in fear of making the injury worse.

“The good news is it’s not a tear, so it’s grabbing on him at times,” Harbaugh said. “One of these times he’s going to get through, and it’s not going to grab on him. The thing that we do want to avoid is we don’t want it to tear. That’s why we’ve shut him down pretty quick whenever he starts to have an issue with it.”

With Smith unavailable for the foreseeable future and Carr’s status remaining up in the air, the Ravens will lean more heavily on Foxworth’s services than they would probably prefer at this point in the season. Nakamura’s versatility provides another option in nickel and dime packages, but a position of good depth has suddenly become a question mark in the early portion of the season.

“When you’ve got guys that can play inside and outside, high or low as safeties, that kind of versatility is huge in a game like that when you start losing guys,” Harbaugh said. “It seems like you lose guys at the same position, at times, in games. Those guys that step up and do what they did is pretty important.”

In other news, wide receiver David Reed has returned to the team after serving a one-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, meaning the Ravens will need to make a move to clear a spot for him on the 53-man roster. Rookie defensive end Michael McAdoo is expected to be waived and presumably placed on the practice squad, but the move is not official yet, according to Harbaugh.

Listen to John Harbaugh’s entire Monday post-game press conference in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault right here.

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