Chykie Brown has spent most of this season watching the Ravens defense from the sidelines.
But he could find himself in the starting lineup this Sunday against the Bengals if cornerback Jimmy Smith (thigh) or Corey Graham (calf) are unable to play. Smith sat out practice Wednesday and Thursday, and Graham was sidelined Thursday, and the Ravens currently have just four cornerbacks on the roster.
If either or both of them are out, then Brown would be the nickel cornerback or start opposite Lardarius Webb. The Ravens typically use three cornerbacks for more than half of the defensive snaps, so he will likely see plenty of time if Smith or Graham is sidelined.
"I don't wish an injury on nobody, but this is the NFL and it's hard to go through a season," Brown said. "So if a guy goes down, then it's the next man up and it's your opportunity."
Brown, who has played 18 defensive snaps this year, has been in this situation previously. He operated as the team's nickel back for more than half of last season because of injuries, and he played more than half of the defensive reps in the three games leading up to the Super Bowl.
"The playing time last year got my confidence up for this year," Brown said.
He took over as the third cornerback in the second half last week when Smith left the game with the injury. He saw eight snaps, and did not allow a completion during his plays in pass coverage.
"In my opportunity I feel like I had a nice, solid day," Brown said. "I had a couple plays, I had good technique."
Confidence is critical for cornerbacks, and the Ravens have said on multiple occasions that they like the confidence Brown has when he takes the field.
The key, Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said, is to have that confidence regardless of the situation.
"I think Chykie is a confident guy, until sometimes the ball is in the air in man coverage, and that's where as a defensive back you can't panic," Pees said. "You can't panic. You've just got to turn and you've just got to make the play and don't get yourself out of sorts and stuff like that. I've seen him sometimes just be in great position and then panic just a little bit when the ball is in the air, and all of a sudden the guy makes the catch and doesn't need to."
In addition to Brown getting more playing time this week, the Ravens may also move second-year cornerback Asa Jackson to the active roster. Jackson was suspended for the first eight games, but he returned to Baltimore this week and has been practicing with the team.
The Ravens would have to move him to the 53-man roster for him to be eligible to play this weekend, and he would provide additional depth in the secondary.
"I'm willing to do whatever they need me to do," Jackson said. "I'm just appreciative of this opportunity they're giving me, and whatever role they need me to play that's what I'm willing to do."
The play of the secondary is critical this week, especially facing a Bengals team that has a dynamic playmaker in receiver A.J. Green. The Ravens have limited Green in the past, and they will need another strong effort from the group to keep him from having a big game at M&T Bank Stadium.
"I feel good about all my guys," Pees said. "I'm never going to say I don't feel good. I feel good about whoever we put out there. I'm confident in whoever we put out there."