“The Competition” is a BaltimoreRavens.com series that breaks down every position battle leading up to training camp.
Lardarius Webb (5-foot-10, 182 pounds, fifth season): Webb hasn’t fully returned to action after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in Week 6 of last season. The Ravens’ top cornerback, who received a contract extension before last year, came back strong after an ACL tear in his other knee during his rookie season, so he has a track record of bouncing back. Head Coach John Harbaugh said he expects Webb to be ready for training camp. His quickness and change of direction looked good while working in individual drills during minicamp.
Corey Graham (6-0, 196, seventh season): The special teams standout emerged as a key contributor on Baltimore’s defense once he became a starter midway through last season. He notched two interceptions in eight regular-season games, then two more against Peyton Manning and the Broncos in the playoffs. Graham was one of the league’s best in limiting completions to short yardage, and has shown a knack for making plays.
Jimmy Smith (6-2, 210, third season): Smith has battled injuries throughout his first two years, missing a combined nine regular-season games. He has shown flashes of his first-round potential, but has yet to break out. Smith dropped 10 pounds this offseason, and perhaps more importantly, has become more of a professional. Smith has been more studious in the classroom this offseason.
Chykie Brown (5-11, 190, third season): Brown went from a special teams player to a defensive contributor in his second year. He even started one game in Week 13 against Pittsburgh. Brown deflected five passes and made 25 tackles. Brown is quite athletic, and will be battling to see more time once again, especially if there are injuries.
Chris Johnson (6-1, 200, 10th season): The veteran was re-signed this offseason, showing the team’s pleasure with the limited work he had the previous season. Johnson is the second-oldest player on the team, but is still one of the fastest. He played well when getting a spot start in Pittsburgh last year.
Asa Jackson (5-10, 190, second season): A fifth-round pick last year, Jackson saw very limited action. He was active for three games and made one tackle. The Cal-Poly product showed some special teams return ability during the preseason, but did not have any returns during the regular season. Jackson served a four-game suspension last year for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy.
Marc Anthony (5-11, 196, seventh round): Anthony was Cal’s most consistent cornerback last year and started 32 of his 41 games played. Perhaps more importantly for now, he was a special teams standout. Anthony has the size and tools to develop defensively, but for now his focus is on special teams.
Moe Lee (6-1, 191, undrafted): The Utah product caught coaches’ attention during Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamp. Secondary Coach Teryl Austin noted the Lee was “around the ball quite a bit.” Lee will have to continue to shine in training camp to make the team.
Much is up in the air with Webb still recuperating. If he’s ready to go Week 1, which is the expectation, then he steps into the top spot as the leader of the group.
Behind Webb is Smith and Graham, who are jostling for the second and third cornerbacks spots. While both will see significant time in the pass-happy NFL, one will get more snaps than the other as the starter. They both ran with the first team during minicamp with Webb out. Graham held off Smith last year, but the former first-round pick is developing.
Brown and Johnson are the favorites for the dime spot, and it’s a battle of the up-and-coming youngster versus the veteran. Brown made big strides last year, but the Ravens like Johnson’s experience. The other youngsters will mostly contribute on special teams.