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Dean Pees: Defense Needs To Cut Down On Big Plays

Posted Jul 27, 2014

Steve Smith Sr. has impressed during camp, but at the expense of the defense.

Ravens Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees says he’s real happy to have wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. on his side.

But Pees is also real tired of seeing Smith beat his defensive backs for big gains.

While fans have applauded Smith’s performance thus far in training camp, the flip side is that it’s come at the expense of the defense.

“What we can’t do is get balls up over the top, and I’m a little disappointed in the first three days,” Pees said. “We’ve got to do better than what we’re doing.”

Pees said giving up fewer big pass plays is a point of emphasis this season. The Ravens actually were in the better half of the league when it came to that category, allowing 50 passes of 20 or more yards (14th-fewest in the NFL).

Still, it’s something the Ravens want to improve on.

“Starting in the first game last year [in Denver], we kind of really … that year didn’t start out real good statistically for us,” Pees said. “We gave up way too many big plays last year.”

The Ravens should have more range at safety with Matt Elam replacing James Ihedigbo. They have brought in free safety Darian Stewart, who is known for his explosiveness and is even fast enough to play cornerback.

Jimmy Smith is rounding into a potential Pro Bowl cornerback and Lardarius Webb was one of the best cornerbacks in the conference for the second half of last season.

The position the Ravens offense has been picking on thus far is the third cornerback, and namely Chykie Brown. Brown is competing with Asa Jackson for that spot, but Jackson is more of an inside slot cornerback while Brown will go outside.

Brown’s had the tough assignment of covering Smith, and has lost that battle more times than he’s won.

On Saturday, Smith caught a long pass down the right sideline, in which he came back for the ball and leaped above Brown. Smith even finished the play with his typical ball spin. A couple days earlier, Smith simply outraced Brown down the sideline for a 70-yard score.

Wide receiver Jacoby Jones beat Brown with a double move on Saturday for what would have been a touchdown. On Friday, Brown seemed to have a pass deflection, but it bounced up into the air and was caught by receiver Marlon Brown.

“[Chykie] is coming along,” Pees said. “He’s fighting for a job in there with the corners. I mean, they have their good days and their bad days.”

The fourth-year player out of Texas played in all 16 games each of the past two seasons. Last year he made 10 tackles and one pass deflection, and his coverage helped seal a home win against the Steelers.

Brown has all the tools with long arms, good size and plenty of speed. But he has yet to put it all together and play consistently enough.

“He needs to be able to turn and find the football and make a play when the situation calls for him to do that,” said Secondary/Assistant Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo. “He has all the ability in the world, and he works his butt off, and anytime you can work with a guy like that, we’ll get somewhere.”

Smith has been trying to work with Brown as well. The two came to the Ravens in the same 2011 draft class and have grown together.

“He had a couple plays here and there, but overall I think what people don’t know about Chykie is Chykie really understands football,” Smith said. “He’ll be in the meeting and he’ll tell you ‘Hey, this is about to come, this is about to come, this is about to come.’  All he has to do now, when he’s out there, is calm down, focus and get right with that.”

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