Williams won the job out of training camp and has started the first three games, but Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said it’s still an open battle for the starting job.
"That’s been a competition from Day 1,” Pees said Tuesday. "That’s always been a consideration every game. Every game we kind of go through during the week and those two guys know it that we just kind of rotate things through the week and whoever we feel like is having a better week, that guy could end up being the starter.”
Williams struggled on Sunday against New England, as quarterback Tom Brady threw for 335 yards and a touchdown. Williams was in man coverage against Brandon Lloyd for much of the day and the Pats wide receiver finished with nine catches for 108 yards.
Pees and Head Coach John Harbaugh said the Patriots’ success had more to do with their prolific offense than it did with Williams struggling.
"You’ve got Tom Brady that puts it right where he wants to put it. They’ve got receivers that are in sync and they really are on the same page,” Harbaugh said. "I think you have to chalk that up more than anything to execution on the part of the offense.”
While Williams has been the starter this season, Smith is still getting plenty of work because the Ravens run out of the nickel package often. Against the Patriots, Smith was in on 67 of the 83 defensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.
Smith acknowledged that competing for a starting job isn’t entirely out of his mind, but he’s not thinking about it every time he steps on the field.
"It’s not out of my mind, but at the same time I’m just focusing on what I have to do every play,” Smith said. "I was in almost every snap last game so I mean we’re all out there on the field, I wasn’t really worried about the competition at that point. I’m just trying to go out and do what I do.”
Smith finished last week’s game with five total tackles and one pass defended. It was the most Smith has played all season.
"It just builds your confidence,” Smith said. "The more plays you make the more confidence you have. The life of a corner is all confidence. Besides the skill you need to have confidence because you’re out there on an island.”
As the Ravens prepare for Thursday’s game against the Browns, they will have a short week of preparation to determine whether Smith or Williams get the start. Pees also made a point to say that all three players will continue to get significant reps moving forward.
"They’re all kind of starters in our eyes because we play so much nickel defense that they both end up in there,” Pees said.