Safety Anthony Levine got a cryptic text message from Ravens Secondary Coach Steve Spagnuolo on Tuesday night.
"Be ready," it said.
Levine didn't know what it meant at the time. He said he just worked hard in practice this week as usual. On Sunday, just hours before the game, Spagnuolo came to Levine and asked him what his game plan was against the Titans.
"I'm going to compete, Coach," Levine said.
And with that, Spagnuolo delivered the news. Levine was going to be the Ravens' new starting cornerback, replacing Jimmy Smith (foot surgery).
Levine was one part of a remade Ravens secondary. Danny Gorrer, who the Ravens signed on Tuesday, also made his debut. Both players impressed as Levine notched two pass deflections and Gorrer made an interception. Neither gave up a big play.
"I'm proud of all those guys. I'm proud of the secondary, they played well," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
"Anthony Levine played really good football out there. It's something that we've kind of been watching for a number of weeks and months, I guess. And he gets better every single week. I guess we're not going to call him a safety anymore. He deserves to be called a corner."
Levine has been listed as a safety throughout his three seasons in Baltimore. The designation hasn't mattered much considering he's been almost exclusively a special teams player. But with Smith out, the Ravens needed somebody to step up.
The conventional thought was that it would be either Gorrer or undrafted rookie Tramain Jacobs, who the Ravens brought up from the practice squad this week.
Instead, Baltimore tabbed Levine, whose only experience playing cornerback in the NFL was in the Ravens' fourth preseason game this year.
"I've been waiting for this for a long time to call myself a starter in something in the NFL – whether it was safety or corner," Levine said. "I'm happy to say that I was the starting corner today for the Baltimore Ravens."
Levine showed his tenacity and good run defense on the Titans' first drive, as he stopped Titans running back Bishop Sankey for just a 1-yard gain and helped to stop an end-around. He finished with four tackles.
Levine later broke up a short pass to Titans wide receiver Nate Washington by reaching around him and playing the ball well. He was also in Tennessee receiver Kendall Wright's back pocket on a third-and-1 incompletion.
"It wasn't that much of a difficult transition [from safety] because I always worked on my back pedal," Levine said. "But doing it in the NFL, it was kind of different. Going against top athletes and I've never done it before. I'm a born competitor though. I just went out there and competed."
Gorrer didn't get the start, but was used in the Ravens' nickel package as the third cornerback.
It was a whirlwind week for Gorrer, as he was cut by the Detroit Lions on Monday and claimed off waivers by the Ravens a day later. Then he had to get up to speed in time to play in Sunday's game. Gorrer last played for the Ravens in 2011, so he had some familiarity. But it still was a tall task.
"Danny played well," Harbaugh said. "Danny was solid the whole game and then got his hands on the last ball and got the interception to close them out."
With the Titans on their last legs and trailing by 14 points, Gorrer came underneath Titans tight end Chase Coffman to make the interception. It's his first interception since Dec. 23, 2012.
The interception ties Gorrer for the Ravens'team lead in picks among the secondary this season. Jimmy Smith also had one before being placed on injured reserve. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and linebacker C.J. Mosley lead the team with two each. Needless to say, the Ravens have been looking for that kind of playmaking ability in the secondary.
"Definitely feels good just to be back in the city of Baltimore and it definitely feels good to get one in my first game back," Gorrer said.
"We went over it in practice all week on that route concept. We knew to pass [the receiver] off [in zone coverage]. When I saw everything develop, I just went and didn't even think about it."
When Titans rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger had 98 passing yards in the first quarter, it looked like it would be another long day for the Ravens' banged-up secondary after it allowed six passing touchdowns to Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh last week.
But the unit rebounded and allowed just 81 passing yards in the next three quarters (179 total). If Baltimore is going to reach the playoffs, the secondary needs to continue to get the job done without Smith.
"It was a big loss with Jimmy," Gorrer said. "But at the same time, with our profession, the show goes on. We've got to come together and keep getting better weekly."