Tag Archive | "Lardarius Webb"

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Jimmy Smith, the breakout player of 2013

Posted on 13 July 2013 by jeffreygilley

Every year, there are players who “break out.” This year, one of them will be the physically imposing Jimmy Smith.

Smith was brought to Baltimore with high expectations. He was dubbed the Ravens’ next great cornerback and was expected to match up with the best of the best.

Going into the 2011 draft, Smith was viewed as a top ten talent. Some experts even said Smith was better than Patrick Peterson, the fifth overall pick in the same draft.

Smith has had an inconsistent start to his career. In a 35-7 blowout victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011, Smith was injured on the very first play. Smith would come back that season and played well in stretches but was susceptible to double moves.

Perhaps Smith’s inconsistent play can be attributed to his college career. Smith was plagued by off field issues but they did not overshadow his performance in his junior and senior seasons. Over that time period, Smith gave up 11 completions with only one being for a first down. Those statistics are impressive by themselves but even more so when you consider Smith played in the pass-happy Pac 12-Conference. When looking at film from that year, teams rarely tested him in the passing game. Smith even excelled in run defense.

Because of his success in college, Smith is not used to being tested. Now that he has experience, he will have a great 2013 season.

Smith also has momentum on his side going into 2013. As I predicted, Smith had a huge impact on Super Bowl XLVII. Smith, the Ravens best tackling cornerback was assigned to cover Michael Crabtree towards the end of the game. Smith more than delivered by breaking up two passes. By forcing these two incompletions, the 49ers turned the ball over and the rest is history.

Lardarius Webb is the unquestioned number one corner on the Ravens’ roster. Smith will have to compete with Corey Graham who is second on the depth chart at this point. Offseason reports suggest Smith is a completely different player. According to these reports, Smith is more of a professional and is pushing Graham early on. Graham is a great corner but is more of a nickel corner. In addition, Smith’s physical prowess make him more suited to play on the outside.

The Ravens will need a solid year out of Jimmy. Have you seen the schedule? There are many elite receivers the Ravens will face. They include Demaryius Thomas, Andre Johnson, AJ Green, Brandon Marshall, and Calvin Johnson. Outside of Smith, there is not a cornerback on the roster that can match up physically with these players.

Expect a great season out of Jimmy Smith. He has every tool to become a superstar in the NFL.

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Baltimore Ravens 2013 Season Preview Part Three: Predicting the Biggest Positional Battles

Posted on 06 July 2013 by jeffreygilley

It’s no secret the Ravens are a different team. Starters that must be replaced include Carry Williams, Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe, Vonta Leach, and Anquan Boldin. Paul Kruger is also gone but he was more of a role player that rotated starts with rookie Courtney UpShaw.

The following are my projections for the most heated roster battles.

Receiver:

Torrey Smith is the only receiver guaranteed a starting spot. Jacoby Jones is a veteran but struggled in Houston when given a larger workload. Therefore, Jones will be competing with Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson, Tommy Streeter, David Reed, and LaQuan Williams. So far, Thompson has made the most of offseason workouts. According to reports, he displays great hands and improved route running ability to go along with his blazing speed.

When the Ravens face the Broncos on Sept. 5, Jacoby Jones will start across from Torrey Smith. He is experienced and made plays when given the opportunity last season. The third receiver will be Danton Doss with Deonte Thompson winning the fourth receiver spot on the depth chart. Doss’s skill set translates well to the slot receiver position. His hands, physicality, and ability to get upfield after the catch will make him a nice weapon for Flacco.

Cornerback:

I am a huge Jimmy Smith fan. Smith has too much potential to be the Ravens nickel corner. If he can put everything together, he will be starting opposite Lardarius Webb. Corey Graham would then be the team’s nickel corner. Successfully defending two passes to Michael Crabtree towards the end of the Super Bowl will be positive plays for Smith to build upon.

Chykie Brown could be a sleeper to receive playing time this season. He showed promise last season and played frequently towards the end of the season.

Inside linebacker:

John Harbaugh and the Ravens have a lot of options at inside linebacker. Jameel McClain will likely start. Therefore, the competition really comes down to Arthur Brown and Darryl Smith. Brown was a second round selection in the 2013 draft and is projected to be a defensive rookie of the year candidate. But Smith brings experience and proven ability at inside linebacker. In the beginning of the season, I think Smith will start on running downs and Brown will play on passing downs. Brown has excellent coverage ability and when paired with McClain, they could make up a great duo in pass coverage.

Bryan Hall could also receive playing time pending the training camp competition. Hall played along the defensive line last season but is making the switch to inside linebacker. Hall could play in certain blitz packages but for the most part, will be a special teams player.

Nose tackle

After a solid 2011 season, many thought Mount Cody would break out in 2012. But Cody struggled. He was consistently pushed around and made little impact against teams with great running games. Ozzie Newsome has made an effort to improve the middle of the defense through the draft and free agency. Brandon Williams was drafted in the third round and Marcus Spears and Chris Canty were signed in free agency. Spears and Canty won’t play nose tackle but they will improve the middle of the defense.

I think Brandon Williams will win the starting job. Cody had hip surgery which could explain his poor play in 2012. If Cody can get healthy and play like he did in 2011, the Ravens will have a great rotation at nose tackle.

Center

Replacing Matt Birk will be difficult. Birk was a great leader and will be replaced by either Gino Gradkowski or AQ Shipley. Gradkowski was drafted out of Delaware in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. Gradkowski was projected to be the starter once Birk retired but Shipley played very well for the Colts last season. He played so well that he earned a plus 6.9 rating from Pro Football Focus.

Gradkowski is the early favorite but Shipley is a solid veteran that could start should Gradkowski struggle.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 27 May 2013 by Glenn Clark

We’re doing things backwards a bit this week because of the holiday. The “Monday Reality Check” will now be a “Tuesday Reality Check.” T10BD reflects the week beginning tomorrow, May 28 through Monday, June 3rd. And before we get started, this feels appropriate.

Honorable Mention: MLL-Hamilton Nationals @ Chesapeake Bayhawks (Saturday 7:30pm from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium live on CBS Sports Network); WNBA: Atlanta Dream @ Washington Mystics (Sunday 4pm Verizon Center)

10. Tim McGraw (Saturday 7pm Jiffy Lube Live); Kelly Rowland & The Dream (Tuesday 7pm Rams Head Live), Pop Evil (Thursday 7pm Rams Head Live); Aaron Neville (Tuesday 8pm Rams Head on Stage), Bacon Brothers (Friday & Saturday 6:30pm & 9:30pm Rams Head on Stage), Candlebox (Monday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Fall Out Boy (Friday 8pm 9:30 Club); Flobots (Sunday 7pm U Street Music Hall); John Fogerty “Wrote A Song For Everyone” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

Not much to like here. I mean, I’m not a Tim McGraw guy but I’ve had a few BBQ stains in my day…

Dear Aaron Neville-thanks for letting us borrow your city to win a Super Bowl. Cheers!

I hate how much people my age know every word to every Fall Out Boy song. But damn if I’m not one of them.

John Fogerty + Foo Fighters + “Fortunate Son” = I might watch this video all night.

9. Artie Lange (Saturday 7:30pm & 10pm Howard Theatre); Kevin James (Wednesday 7:30pm Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric); Hal Sparks (Thursday-Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); After Earth” and “Now You See Me” out in theaters (Friday); Artfest (Saturday 12pm Boordy Vineyards); Great Grapes! Wine and Food Festival (Saturday & Sunday 12pm Oregon Ridge); “A Taste Of Two Cities”-Baltimore vs. DC Food Trucks (Saturday 12pm Rash Field)

I feel like Baltimore should EASILY win a competition against DC in terms of food. All you do is show up with some sweet corn and lather it in Old Bay. Competition over. The Clark Family did a bit too much of that over Memorial Day weekend…

Competition still going? We shove Peppermint Sticks in lemons around these parts, son. What now?

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Ravens LB Arthur Brown sidelined after sports hernia surgery

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Ravens LB Arthur Brown sidelined after sports hernia surgery

Posted on 22 May 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Instead of mixing it up with veterans in the Ravens’ first week of organized team activities, rookie linebacker Arthur Brown is instead sidelined after undergoing sports hernia surgery two weeks ago.

The second-round draft pick had the procedure shortly after the team’s mandatory rookie minicamp earlier this month and will likely be sidelined for the remainder of the spring schedule. Though the news is far from crippling, it does take valuable reps away from the Kansas State product who is projected by most to be a starting inside linebacker in the Ravens’ 3-4 base defense.

“He’s recovering from that,” coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s a four-to-six week deal and he should be fine soon enough.”

That leaves the Ravens with both projected starters at inside linebacker less than 100 percent as veteran Jameel McClain continues to improve in his recovery from a spinal cord contusion suffered last December. The sixth-year linebacker dressed out to practice and did some limited work during Wednesday’s practice but did not participate in team drills. He has yet to be cleared for full contact, but the expectation continues to be that McClain will be in plenty of time to play this season.

Joining McClain on the practice field in a limited capacity was cornerback Lardarius Webb, who showed impressive quickness in his backpedal despite wearing a brace on his surgically-repaired left knee. The Ravens expect Webb to be 100 percent by the start of training camp in July and his showing on Wednesday suggested that should be a very accurate projection.

The Ravens have offered a positive prognosis on each player throughout the offseason and Webb began running at the beginning of the voluntary offseason workout program in mid-April.

“We’ve been encouraged with Lardarius and Jameel, really throughout,” Harbaugh said. “They’ve both done a great job with their rehab. They’ve had no setbacks, so they’re on schedule.”

Baltimore had two players who underwent groin surgery this offseason in rush end Pernell McPhee and nose tackle Terrence Cody. McPhee was participating fully in Wednesday’s practice while Cody was present but not working. Sixth-round defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore wasn’t practicing as he continues to rehab a surgically-reconstructed ACL.

Linebacker Albert McClellan appeared to be practicing on a limited basis.

There were several key veterans absent from the field for the voluntary workout, including linebacker Terrell Suggs, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, defensive end Chris Canty, fullback Vonta Leach, right guard Marshal Yanda, and wide receiver Jacoby Jones. Harbaugh provided a predictable answer when asked for comment on those players not being present.

“Every guy that comes or isn’t here has their reason, and they are in communication with us,” said Harbaugh, who mentioned that Canty was present on Tuesday. “It’s a voluntary workout. We coach the guys who are here, though.”

Asked to comment on Jones’ third-place finish in ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, Harbaugh offered congratulations to his No. 2 wide receiver and return specialist for the way in which he represented the organization, but you could also tell the Ravens head coach is eager to see Jones get back to football.

Jones has told the organization he’s remained in great condition while taking part in the competition and will report to Owing Mills for work on Thursday.

“I was proud of Jacoby through the whole thing. I am looking for him on the next flight back here to Baltimore, Jacoby,” said Harbaugh as he laughed. “He should be getting off the plane any second here at BWI. Should be expecting him tomorrow — will be looking for him. He should be in great shape. I thought he did great.”

Tight end Ed Dickson took part in Wednesday’s practice despite having not yet signed his restricted original-round tender. According to a team official, Dickson along with the Ravens’ four exclusive-rights players — running back Bobby Rainey, safety Omar Brown, safety Anthony Levine, and linebacker Adrian Hamilton — were all practicing after signing offseason workout program and minicamp participation agreements.

A similar agreement is used for unsigned rookie draft picks that allows for participation in OTAs and minicamp practices.

 

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Webb now running on road to recovery from ACL injury

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Webb now running on road to recovery from ACL injury

Posted on 23 April 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Cornerback Lardarius Webb celebrated with his teammates in New Orleans following the Ravens win in Super Bowl XLVII, but knowing he didn’t make an impact on the field left him unsatisfied.

That feeling has been the driving force behind his recovery from a torn ACL suffered in mid-October that sidelined him for the rest of the Ravens’ championship season. As Ray Lewis rode off into the sunset of a brilliant 17-year career and Ed Reed played his final game as a Raven raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy, Webb could only watch from the sideline as he cheered on the rest of his team.

He wants an opportunity to get back — as a player on the field this time.

“It feels good to be a Super Bowl champion, but I want to play,” Webb said. “I want to play in it. That’s still my motivation to this day. I want to play in a Super Bowl.”

Regarded by many as the Ravens’ best defensive performer in the first five weeks of the 2012 season, Webb entered a Week 6 game against the Dallas Cowboys with one interception and was tied for third on the team with 25 tackles. However, the 27-year-old suffered the second devastating injury of his career in tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee less than three years after experiencing the same injury with his other knee.

The news devastated Webb as he could only focus on the long road to recovery as the Ravens experienced an up-and-down regular season before finally getting hot at the right time en route to their second NFL championship.

“It was hard at first. I couldn’t believe it had happened again, going through that adversity,” Webb said. “After a week or two with my family, friends, and this locker room, I was able to keep my head up. Being strong. What I did was just came every day, just worked my butt off. The head trainer [Mark Smith], he’s pushing me hard and he’s taking great care of me.”

Webb has begun running and appears on track to be 100 percent by the summer, but the Ravens have made it a point to take it slow to prevent any setbacks. He had the advantage of a longer recovery time with his second ACL injury compared to when he injured his left knee in the final month of his rookie season in 2009.

The former third-round pick signed a six-year, $50 million contract last offseason and appeared on the cusp of becoming a Pro Bowl cornerback entering the 2012 season. Beginning with the start of the 2011 season, continuing with the 2011 playoffs, and concluding at the time of his knee injury in Week 6 of last year, Webb’s nine interceptions were tied for the league lead.

“He’s coming along well,” strength and conditioning coach Bob Rogucki said. “Right now, as far as the rehab, he’s still under the athletic training staff as far as his legs. I train his upper body; I train his non-involved leg. He is now beginning to run with us, so he’s coming along according to course.”

The Ravens will lean on Webb to provide more leadership along with Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata on the defensive side of the football to replace the cavernous void left by Lewis and Reed. That’s a major reason why Webb is reveling in the opportunity to continue his recovery at the team’s Owings Mills facility as the offseason conditioning program began last week.

Even though Webb struggled to make it back to play at a high level in the year immediately following his 2009 knee injury, simply knowing he was eventually able to return to such a high level of play has helped the Nicholls State product push through the difficult process.

“It did, just with my confidence level and what I’m going to have to go through,” Webb said. “It made it very easy. All I can do is come here and work every day and that’s what I do.”

Webb was very brief in answering questions about his progress — perhaps not wanting to look too far ahead — as he simply insists the knee is coming along well without delving into any specific timetable at which he’ll be 100 percent. The coaching staff sees no reason why he won’t be lining up for Baltimore’s first training camp practices in late July.

And with fellow starting cornerback Cary Williams departing for the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency, defensive coordinator Dean Pees will welcome Webb back as soon as he’s cleared.

“Lardarius is on schedule, at least, maybe ahead of schedule,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He looks really good. He should be ready to roll [for] training camp, it looks like. We are going to make sure we don’t have a setback. That’s the most important thing.”

It isn’t easy going through two ACL injuries in three years and missing the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl, but Webb displays the same confidence he had prior to the injury that ended his 2012 season prematurely.

He hears the doubters wondering if he can get back to the same level of play after another serious knee injury and he wears a chip on his shoulder proudly.

“I’m just working my butt off,” Webb said. “When the time comes, No. 21 will be back.”

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Webb’s rehab on knee going “great”

Posted on 31 January 2013 by WNST Staff

CORNERBACK LARDARIUS WEBB

(on helping the team from the sidelines) “I’m just being supportive to the guys.  We talk back and forth about what they see before they go into the game or what I might see.  Just talking and being there when they need me and most importantly being a leader still.”

 

(on being hurt and not able to play at the Super Bowl) “Just a little bit but it feels so sweet just to make in to the Super Bowl, just to even be here for Joe Flacco to finally reach that spot and Ed Reed after all those years of playing and never making it here. Those guys get a chance for their dreams to come true. Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs,  I am happy for those guys.”

 

(on Joe Flacco’s performance) “I don’t know why people are surprised I mean he’s winning games and going to the playoffs and having a winning record every year. He’s a quiet guy but very talkative in the locker room. I guess he just comes off as a quiet guy. He’s a great guy.”

 

(on being on pace for playing next season) “Yes, I am coming back next season and everything is great.”

 

(on being part of the Super Bowl without participating) “I am part of it, I feel a part of it. I wish I could play, but I am happy for the guys. I am happy Joe Flacco could possibly win his first one.  Ed Reed, Haloti Hgata, the guys who have been playing a while and never made it. That’s why I am happy.  You know I am here after four years, and I will have another chance to make it in the near future with the team we have, with coaches we have and the organization we have.  We will be back, or somewhere close to being back here, I will wait for the future but we’ll be back.  Take advantage of the time we’re here.”

 

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Ravens sign veteran Chris Johnson to boost cornerback depth

Posted on 13 November 2012 by Luke Jones

With top cornerback Lardarius Webb already lost for the season and starter Jimmy Smith hampered with a groin injury, the Ravens boosted their secondary depth Tuesday with the signing of former Raiders cornerback Chris Johnson.

To make room on the 53-man roster, Baltimore placed rookie running back Bobby Rainey on injured reserve with a knee injury.

The 33-year-old Johnson was released in March after spending the last five seasons with the Oakland Raiders. He played in only four games last season before finishing the year on the non-football injury list as he dealt with the fatal shooting of his sister.

Johnson made 29 starts in his five-year run with Oakland, intercepting eight passes and and forcing three fumbles. The cornerback was originally drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the seventh round of the 2003 draft but didn’t make his NFL debut until 2005 with the St. Louis Rams.

With Smith’s status in question after he was unable to loosen up an injured groin to play in the 55-20 win over the Oakland Raiders in Week 10, the Ravens will likely elect to activate another cornerback against Pittsburgh this Sunday. Rookie Asa Jackson was the only cornerback on the 53-man roster not to be active against Oakland.

Nickel back Corey Graham started in Smith’s place and second-year corner Chykie Brown played in the team’s nickel package in Sunday’s win.

Rainey, an undrafted free agent from Western Kentucky, was inactive in his only three games on the 53-man roster. The pint-sized running back was waived at the start of the season after initially making the team but was then promoted from the practice squad following the season-ending injury to Webb in mid-October.

The team also announced the re-signing of quarterback Dennis Dixon to the practice squad and the release of safety Omar Brown.

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Roethlisberger possibly out for Sunday night’s game against Baltimore Ravens? Yes please

Posted on 13 November 2012 by BaltimoreSportsNut

Alright, immediately after Big Ben left the game last night after hurting his shoulder, I was already seeing tweets and comments from Ravens fans that they hope Roethlisberger plays because we want to beat them at their best.

WHAT??? This is the NFL, you never take on a team at their best, every team in the NFL has a starter that is hurt at least 99.99% of the time so you are never beating a team at their best. Do you think Steelers fans are up in the steel city saying I wish Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb were playing so we can beat them at their best? NO WAY!! They, like myself, just want to beat the opposition.

I want to see Baltimore go up to Pittsburgh Sunday Night and beat the tar out of the Steelers with or without Roethlisberger, I don’t care who is playing, a win is a win. At the end of the season when you look at a team’s record, does it have an asterisk next to it stating, well they beat X Team without X Player….NOPE.

Having said all of that, Baltimore should not be thinking that without Roethlisberger this is going to be an easy win, it certainly helps their chances, and they should win, but its not a gimme. Leftwich is a professional quarterback and will be prepared, but the Ravens are still going to have to stop Dwyer and Redman as the Steelers are going to run the football and run it right at the Baltimore defense.

I will be wearing my purple Sunday Night and rooting for a Ravens victory, no matter who is on the field.

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Flacco, Ravens getting close to that “homer” tag they’d like to avoid…

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Flacco, Ravens getting close to that “homer” tag they’d like to avoid…

Posted on 21 October 2012 by Drew Forrester

There’s a policy in the NFL that all teams get a 10-minute “cooling off period” before the media is allowed to enter the locker room following a game.

Today, in the aftermath of the shellacking in Houston, I gave myself a two-hour grace period before sitting down to opine on what we all witnessed at Reliant Stadium.

Strangely, my opinion hasn’t changed much since 4:15 pm.

The Ravens appear as if they’ve become “homers”.

You know the story by now.  They’ve won 14 straight games at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

They can’t break an egg on the road.

But they sure can lay one.

I saw a lot of armchair coaches pointing the finger at Joe Flacco and the offense on Sunday as the Texans piled on the points in that 43-13 beatdown.

And I observed gobs of folks blaming the Baltimore defense for “not being able to stop anyone” as Houston controlled the ball and the game for the final 53 minutes.

Here’s the truth.

On the road, the offense isn’t very good.  Remember last week against Dallas?  They put up 31 points in a 2-point win over the Cowboys.  There was that 31 point effort at home against New England and the 44-pointer over the Bengals on September 10.

At home, the Ravens offense is alive and creative and mobile, not to mention efficient both on the ground and in the air.

On the road, they have as much energy as a hammock. They don’t do anything well.

The rest of the truth?

The defense isn’t very good, home or away, but Sunday in Houston it was pretty much a disaster throughout the afternoon as the Texans picked them apart in the air and ran through them on the ground.

If you’re of the mindset that “someone” has to get the blame, go ahead and blame away.

Cam Cameron absolutely deserves to be criticized.  At home, he puts together a game plan that helps garner points and win games.  On the road, his game-plan mostly brings snickers and f-bombs from those of us who don’t cover our eyes when the Ravens go on offense.

There was a point mid-way through the 4th quarter on Sunday when the Ravens were faced with 3rd and 3 and they were in four-down territory, trailing 36-10.  The third down play was a pass.  As was the fourth down play.  The Ravens were saved by a questionable pass interference call that extended the drive, but you get the point.  Looking at 3rd and 3 and knowing his offense was in a four-down situation, Cameron elected to pass on 3rd down.  Why not run there?  If you only pick up one or two yards, you run again on 4th down to get the first down.  If you can’t pick up three yards on two running plays in the NFL, you – as the coordinator of that sorry group – and your offensive line and running back shouldn’t get a meal or refreshments on the plane flight home.

Joe Flacco is going to get the hot-seat treatment this week from fans and media and let’s be fair, he deserves it.  He had the ball in his hand and the game in the balance in week #2 at Philly and couldn’t do anything.  Under his direction, the Ravens offense managed three measly field goals in a sleepy 9-6 win at Kansas City three weeks ago.  At home, he’s been spectacular at times.  On the road, he’s looked like a 15-handicapper playing against Tiger Woods.  There were also some lackluster offensive efforts last season in Jacksonville and Seattle, but in all fairness to the quarterback, last year is last year.  I’m only worried about this season.  And so far, in three away games, the offense and the quarterback of John Harbaugh’s team have been borderline woeful.

(Please see next page for more)

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Jimmy Smith looking to live up to first-round billing with increased role

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Jimmy Smith looking to live up to first-round billing with increased role

Posted on 17 October 2012 by Luke Jones

Only 18 months ago, the Ravens selected Jimmy Smith with the 27th overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft with thoughts of the Colorado product becoming a shutdown cornerback.

Needless to say, the start of Smith’s professional career hasn’t gotten off to the start he anticipated as an ankle injury in the 2011 season opener and the emergence of Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams had relegated Smith to part-time duty over the first 18 games of his career. However, with the season-ending ACL injury suffered by Webb in the Ravens’ 31-29 win over the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday, Smith now finds himself in the starting role he and the Ravens initially envisioned on draft day two years ago.

The 24-year-old is ready to prove the Ravens made the right decision in tabbing him as a first-round talent, even if he’s had to wait patiently for his first extensive opportunity to start. Though Smith sustained a groin injury against Dallas, he is expected to make the start against the Houston Texans this Sunday.

“First, second, third, seventh [round], it doesn’t matter,” Smith said. “Once you get drafted, you want to prove what you’ve got. You want to prove to everybody that you belong, and it [stinks] that my opportunity came at a time when another player was hurt, but at the same time, you’ve got to step up and show what you’ve got.”

In reality, Smith’s role had increased this season anyway as defensive coordinator Dean Pees has made extensive use of the nickel package, with the second-year cornerback playing on the outside on the opposite side of Williams as Webb slid inside to assume the nickel spot. Prior to Sunday when Webb went down with the knee injury in the first quarter, Smith had participated in 55 percent of the Ravens’ total number of defensive snaps (205 of 373) through the first five weeks of the season.

Veteran special-teams standout Corey Graham is expected to play in the nickel package and line up at the inside position previously occupied by Webb.

Through six games this season, Smith has collected 16 tackles and three pass breakups. He’ll now be asked to play nearly all defensive snaps, though the expanded workload won’t really come with any new responsibilities while on the field.

“I expect him to play really well,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I have tremendous confidence in Jimmy Smith. We all do. Jimmy’s got tremendous confidence. He’s here for a reason. He’s talented, he works hard. He’ll play well.”

Despite an impressive 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame for a cornerback, Smith has been hesitant to use his impressive size to chuck wide receivers at the line of scrimmage, instead using his above-average speed. The defensive back is also inconsistent in trying to find the football in coverage, often in good position but failing to finish plays.

Smith seemed to adjust to the speed of the game late last season, intercepting two passes in the final seven weeks of the regular season and collecting another interception in the AFC Championship game against New England. However, he’s still getting used to the complexity of routes run by NFL receivers.

“There are a lot more route combinations up here, so you’ve got to always keep your eyes on the man, and then turning your head is kind of a skill that you’ve got to kind of perfect,” Smith said. “Then sometimes, you turn your head around, he stops, and then catches a comeback. It’s just a lot of discipline with that, and like I said, I worked on it a lot this offseason — when to turn, when not to look and how to play the hands.”

Both Williams and Smith have been maligned for suspect coverage this season as the Baltimore defense has struggled to find a consistent pass rush. With Webb no longer a part of the defensive backfield, the unit will face even greater challenges in trying to slow opposing passing attacks.

Smith beginning to realize his immense potential as a full-time player would be a shot in the arm to the 26th-ranked defense in the NFL. He expects to be challenged even more now that he’ll be on the field a lot more in his new starting role.

“I’m a second-year corner,” Smith said. “They’re definitely going to attack me. But, I’ve got to strap it on and be ready.”

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