The Ravens have shown in the past they aren't afraid to shake things up in the middle of the season.
General Manager Ozzie Newsome traded for a new starting left tackle, Eugene Monroe, in 2013 and last year he cut a pair of cornerbacks after a lopsided loss to the Steelers. The Ravens constantly look for ways to upgrade the roster and get the best players on the field, and earlier this week Newsome traded for cornerback Will Davis after the defense's rough outing against the Raiders.
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees hinted that it may not be long before Davis sees the field, as he and reserve cornerback Rashaan Melvin will both push the players ahead of them for paying time.
"That's why they're here." Pees said. "That's why they're on the 53-man roster. You're here to compete and get a job – either beat somebody out or give us depth."
Davis and Melvin both have talent.
Davis is a former third-round pick who was stuck behind talented corners in Miami. He's an outside cornerback who could put himself in the mix for a starting job once he gets a full grasp of Baltimore's defense.
"You have to stand out," Davis said. "That's what they want you to do and coming here that's what they told me."
The Ravens may give him another week to learn the system before activating him on gameday, but Davis doesn't expect to be watching from the sidelines for long.
Melvin already has starting experience from last season, including both playoff contests. He was challenging Lardarius Webb for a starting job during training camp before going down with a thigh injury that has lingered a month.
Melvin missed the first two games of the year, but he's recovered from the injury and expects to "get right back in there."
"I think that I'll be inserted right away and be pulled up to speed," Melvin said. "Unfortunately I got banged up and had to wait my turn. I'm excited to get back out there, help my team out and contribute to the defense."
Baltimore's current starting cornerbacks are Webb and Jimmy Smith. Offseason acquisition Kyle Arrington is the team's third cornerback who primarily plays in the slot, and rookie fourth-round pick Tray Walker has played a special-teams role the first two games.
The corners have been uneven through the first two games. The group shut down Denver's potent offense led by Peyton Manning, but they followed that up with an outing where Oakland's second-year quarterback Derek Carr threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns.
The secondary had missed assignments, missed tackles and allowed too many big plays against Oakland.Pees said the group also limited what he could do in terms of calling blitzes.
"I didn't feel we were playing with energy, that's the worst time to pressure, because it means you're not going to get there, and you're really not playing aggressive in the back end," he said.
The secondary will face another difficult test this week against Cincinnati, which has one of the game's best receivers in A.J. Green. The Bengals also have playmakers in wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and tight end Tyler Eifert, and the Ravens will need a strong performance from the starting secondary to keep that group at bay.
The coaching staff also knows it has Melvin and Davis waiting for their opportunity to get on the field, and they expect that competition to bring out the best of the group.
"Ozzie, John [Harbaugh] and Steve [Bisciotti] wouldn't have gone after Will Davis if we didn't think he could compete for a job," Pees said. "And we wouldn't have Rashaan here if we didn't think he could compete for a job."