Jimmy Smith was back to himself Monday evening.
After walking out of the locker room on Sunday dejected and too emotional to talk with reporters, Smith faced questions from the media a day after A.J. Green torched Baltimore's secondary to propel the Bengals to a win. Smith acknowledged he didn't play his best on a day where Green racked up 227 receiving yards and two touchdowns, but he stressed he won't let the struggles linger.
"I don't think my confidence is shaken, because obviously, I still go down and I try to play the game I want to play," said Smith, who thanked the media for waiting a day before answering questions. "Obviously, you don't want to give up big plays, but my confidence comes in my preparation, and I prepare. I study harder than most people, I would say.
"My confidence isn't going to shake just because a play has been made on me."
Smith's teammates echoed their confidence in the fifth-year player. When outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil was asked about Smith being a good corner in past games, he cut off the question to say, "he's still a good corner."
"Jimmy is one of our best corners," Dumervil continued. "He's one of the good players on our team – great guy, great teammate. Some days you give up plays, some days you make plays. That's just the National Football League, and I wouldn't want to take any other corner but him."
Head Coach John Harbaugh has been one of Smith's biggest advocates over the years, and he reiterated Monday that Smith is a "really good football player." The show of confidence is a sign the Ravens' faith isn't wavering in Smith, who the team signed to a reported $40.1 million contract extension this offseason.
The Ravens signed Smith to a new deal with the expectation for him to anchor in the secondary. He emerged as a shutdown cornerback before getting injured, but his first three games of 2015 have been inconsistent.
He made a game changing pick-six against Denver in Week 1, and also had an interception in the end zone Sunday on a pass thrown Green's direction. But he's given up big plays to Green and Amari Cooper the last two games.
"I've just got to be a little bit smarter in situational football, and I guess in a couple of those I kind of relied on my ability and not my smarts," he said. "And I should have been a lot smarter in those situations."
Smith has the physical tools to be exactly the kind of cornerback the Ravens want. He's big and physical, and can press opposing receivers at the line of scrimmage. That ability is a big part of the reason the Ravens had him shadow Green throughout Sunday's game.
Smith's strength as a press cornerback makes him different from many players in the league, but he explained why it's not realistic for him to play press coverage every single down.
"It's almost impossible, because there are just teams' motion and stacks and bunches, and they're just not going to let you do what you do best all the time," he said.
Smith's up-and-down performances have pretty much been the story for the entire secondary. After virtually shutting down Peyton Manning and the Broncos in the opener, the group has allowed big days to the Raiders and Bengals.
The breakdowns have been glaring, but Smith thinks the group isn't as far off despite what the last two games suggest.
"If you really, really know football, and you see what happened in the game and you're like, 'Oh, it's just a slight [change,]'" Smith said. "They're big plays, so it seems like it's a huge problem. But in reality, it's simple coverages that we need to be perfect on.
"There are times when we're playing at a high level, it's just we've got to be way more consistent. It's minor techniques – even though they're huge plays – it's a minor technique that we're missing or that we're not completing. So, it's not even the calls; it's things we have to fix and clean up, and we'll get that done."