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Chykie Brown May Be Ravens' Most Improved Player

Posted Aug 1, 2013

Cornerback Chykie Brown has been told by coaches that he’s competing for a starting spot.

When talking about who the Ravens’ starting cornerback opposite Lardarius Webb will be this season, the summer debate has been between Corey Graham and Jimmy Smith.

After a week of training camp, Chykie Brown’s name is creeping into the conversation.

Brown has been told by coaches that he’s in the mix for a starting spot. And he’s taken full advantage of the opportunity so far.

“Chykie has improved maybe as much as anybody on this football team in the last couple of years,” Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said Thursday. “I really think he’s come light years from where he was.”

Brown was a fifth-round pick in 2011 out of Texas, where he was overshadowed by safety Aaron Williams (now with the Buffalo Bills) and cornerback Curtis Brown (Steelers).

Chykie came to a Ravens secondary that was also loaded with cornerback talent. He played in seven games as a rookie, mostly on special teams, then began to emerge last year. He played in all 16 games, started one and recorded 25 tackles.

Now with Cary Williams departed for Philadelphia and Lardarius Webb easing his way back from a knee injury, Brown is getting a lot of reps with the first-team defense in practice. He’s constantly around the ball, and has made a number of deflections.

On Wednesday, Brown got under Torrey Smith’s skin, enticing a shove from the usually mellow wide receiver. If Brown’s bothering the opponent that much, he’s doing his job.

“When there’s competition, that’s when I play the best and step up in to the spotlight,” Brown said. “This is my third year. There aren’t any more excuses of being a young player anymore. I’m a vet in this league.”

Brown has always had the physical capability to be a standout cornerback. He’s got a rocked-up 5-foot-11, 190-pound frame, long arms and good speed. He ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine, just four hundredths of a second slower than Ravens first-round cornerback Smith.

“He just has to become more consistent,” Pees said.

Brown has an occasional hiccup and can give up a big play. Brown said the issue is a lack of focus. Pees called them “moments.” While all 11 players have them, Brown had too many at first.

But starting last year, Brown got more into the playbook under the guidance of safety Ed Reed, who had the locker right next door. Reed helped Brown better recognize plays before they came, taking keys from formation and down and distance. Brown learned to play with better eye discipline.

“Now he’s starting to look at the right things, playing more instinctively,” Pees said. “Now his physical attributes that he has are starting to show off because his mental game has improved.”

Brown has never lacked in confidence. He’s constantly yapping, and is one of the Ravens’ most colorful characters. Brown feels even more self-assured now that he’s got a chance to be an impact defensive player.

“If you’re in your zone, you’re more focused, you’re more competitive and you feel like you can’t be touched,” Brown said. “I feel like I’m invisible. When I’m in the zone, I can be lock down.”

Early in camp on July 26, Head Coach John Harbaugh said Brown is competing with veteran Chris Johnson to be the team’s fourth cornerback. But Harbaugh also added that Brown’s a “starting-caliber” player. If Brown continues having strong practices, he could be competing for an even bigger role.

Asked if he thinks he can win a starting job, Brown said, “Of course.”

“There isn’t anybody in the secondary that has a starting spot, their name painted on a spot,” he said. “It’s competitive out there. So we shall see.”

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