Corey Graham Expected To Step Into Nickel


Corey Graham signed with Baltimore this offseason for the chance to play defense on one of the historically top units in the NFL.

That hadn't come to fruition for Graham through five games. Graham saw just seven defensive snaps.

His playing time saw a major spike last Sunday, however, and will continue going forward.

With starting cornerback Lardarius Webb out for the rest of the year with a torn ACL, and Jimmy Smith stepping into his starting position, Graham is primed to step into the nickel role. It's a key position considering the pass-heavy, spread-it-out nature of the NFL.

"That's why I came here, that's what I wanted to do is to get an opportunity to play on defense," Graham said. "It's unfortunate the way it came. Obviously I didn't want it to be that way. But however you look at it, it's a chance for me to go out and play. And that's always a good thing."

Graham, a special teams standout who went to the Pro Bowl last year, is no stranger to seeing time on defense too.

He was the Chicago Bears' nickel corner for a three-game stretch in 2011. He recorded an interception in each game from Weeks 10 through 12.

"Corey will do a good job in there," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "The thing I like about Corey is he can play outside, he can play inside, and he can play safety. So, he gives us a lot of versatility there."

Graham came to Baltimore and shined as a cornerback in training camp. He was frequently making interceptions and it was evident that he was building confidence in the Ravens' talented secondary.

"I feel comfortable out there," Graham said. "I've been playing against good receivers and learning the system and things like that. I've just got to get back in the groove and get out there and play in front of a crowd."

Graham isn't the only player who could see more playing time at nickel, Harbaugh said. Rookie fifth-round pick Asa Jackson will also be part of the equation.

Jackson has been inactive for all six of the Ravens' games thus far. The 5-foot-10 corner from Cal Poly has very good closing speed and is a confident, gritty competitor in the slot. Despite a late start because of school obligations, Jackson impressed in camp.

"Seeing Webby go down was tough, but everything that I've gotten from him over the last months, it's time to show that I've been listening and studying," Jackson said.

"Practice is fun, but the games are what drive people. Sixteen chances. I've been impatient, I really have. Now it's time to get out there and make something happen."

Second-year player Chykie Brown could also be in line for a bigger a role. He's more of an outside cornerback, however, and seems to better fit dime packages.

Brown saw 11 snaps against Dallas with Jimmy Smith coming off the field late in the game with an injury. He had one pass deflection on a pass to the end zone for wide receiver Dez Bryant, but was also flagged for what could have been a decisive pass interference on the Cowboys' final drive.

"I knew they were going to come right at me," Brown said. "I was ready for them."

The Ravens cornerbacks will all have to be ready for more with Webb out.

"We have to step up to the challenge, and we're going to be challenged," Cary Williams said. "The schedule doesn't get any easier. We just have to overcome adversity and continue to play hard."

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