Brandon Carr has known nothing other than being a starting cornerback.
For 10 years, Carr has started every single game of his NFL career. That’s 160 straight games, not including the playoffs.
Baltimore’s “Iron Horse,” as he’s been nicknamed, has a young buck right on his heels, however.
Last year’s first-round pick, Marlon Humphrey, had a standout rookie season and is deserving of a bigger role this season. But with Jimmy Smith looking like he’ll be ready to start Week 1 after rebounding from an Achilles, there’s one starting spot up for grabs between Carr and Humphrey.
On Sunday, Carr was asked about how he’s approaching the competition and the streak, and he answered as diplomatically as he possibly could.
“Everything has to come to an end at some point,” Carr said. “But my goal, my job, is to come out here and compete, battle for a starting job and to keep the streak alive as long as I can.”
Carr has done just that in Ravens training camp. The Ravens receivers have been highly impressive through the first three weeks, but Carr has held his own. He’s given up some plays, just as all of Baltimore’s cornerbacks have, but he’s won many battles too.
Carr is coming off a very solid 2017 season. His four interceptions were tied for a career-high. His 12 passes defensed were tied for the most he’s had since 2011.
After such a strong showing, the Ravens opted to keep Carr this season despite his salary cap hit more than doubling from $3 million to $7 million, per Spotrac.
“At this point in my career, I’m just enjoying the game of playing football,” Carr said. “I’m enjoying being back on the East Coast. I’m enjoying being back in Baltimore. This environment is nothing but football-friendly for me.”
Carr, Humphrey and Smith have rotated the first-team reps throughout practice thus far. The Ravens will continue to do so during the regular season, so who has the title of “starter” isn’t super important, but it likely won’t be an even spread.
Asked how he’s enjoying the competition, Carr said, “I love it, man.”
“It allows me to elevate my game. It pushes me,” Carr said, adding that he’s enjoyed watching the improvements Humphrey has made.
“I love to start. I love to play football. But I like to win football games. I’m proud of the guys out there making plays, and I’m proud of myself for making plays as well. It’s just all about ‘iron sharpens iron.’ Competition is great. It’s just going to breed a lot of greatness across the board.”
Humphrey can still learn a lot from Carr too, especially when it comes to taking care of his body. Carr has a religious (and long) stretching routine after every practice and spends a lot of time maintaining his health. There are reasons why he’s never missed a game.
“I take pride in just being available each and every week,” Carr said. “I take pride in taking care of my body, trying to play through as many injuries – whether they’re big or small – as I can. But, I’ve been blessed throughout my career just to kind of be lucky and stay out the fray and play through the injuries I have.”