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Durability A Big Part Of Why Ravens Signed Brandon Carr


The Ravens know all too well what it's like playing shorthanded in the secondary – particularly at cornerback – and they've grown tired of it.

That's why signing Brandon Carr was so alluring to the Ravens, who pounced in the free-agent market to officially ink the veteran to a four-year contract Monday.

"[We are getting] one of the most solid, dependable corners in football," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

Carr has never missed an NFL game (or start) since coming into the league as a fifth-round pick out of Division II Grand Valley State in 2008. Nine seasons, 16 starts every single year. In this day and age, it's a mind-boggling statistic.

His 144 consecutive starts rank as the NFL's longest active streak among cornerbacks, with the next closest being the Arizona Cardinals' Patrick Peterson – a whopping 48 games behind (that's three full seasons).

Carr's streak is the sixth-longest in the entire NFL. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning tops the list at 201 straight games.

Baltimore is a town known for its streaks. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had one of the NFL's longest consecutive games played streaks (122) before tearing his ACL in 2015. Former Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. still holds the MLB streak at 2,632 straight games.

So how has Carr done it?

He gave thanks to God for keeping him healthy, and said luck has played into the streak. The way he prepares his body through the offseason and during the season is also definitely a contributing factor.

At the same time, Carr said it's just the way he's wired. He talked about playing in elementary school recess with broken fingers. The hard-nosed Flint, Mich., native never wants to sit out.

"Sometimes it is just the luck of the draw, and sometimes it is just being stupid and playing through whatever is going on," Carr said. "If I can go out there and play and give you something, then I am going to go out there and suit up and give you what I have."

The Ravens, meanwhile, have seen cornerback after cornerback go down with injuries over the past few years.

Since becoming Baltimore's first-round pick in 2011, Jimmy Smith has played in all 16 games in two of his six seasons. He suffered an injury while covering a kickoff on the very first play of his NFL debut.

Smith missed five games last season, which played a big part in the defense's struggles over the final quarter of the season and left them out of the playoffs. Smith also missed eight games in 2014, as well as the playoffs when the Ravens started Rashaan Melvin.

Other cornerbacks that have missed time during the last few years include Asa Jackson, Chykie Brown, Dominique Franks, Danny Gorrer, Lardarius Webb and Shareece Wright. The Ravens have been shorthanded for a while.

Baltimore reportedly expressed interest in Carr's former Dallas teammate, Morris Claiborne, but while talented, Claiborne also came with injury red flags. He has missed more games than he's played during his five years in the league.

Harbaugh said Baltimore had a lot of options to bolster the secondary, but Carr's dependability was a "big part" of why the Ravens went with him.

"We looked at a lot of guys. There were different guys that had different histories," Harbaugh said. "You know, you cannot do any better than Brandon has done. There is a reason for that.

"Sure, luck comes into it and you do knock on wood and laugh about those kinds of things. But what Brandon is talking about in terms of taking care of himself and taking a holistic approach in what he does – that has made a difference for him. I think the biggest indicator of future behavior and success is past behavior and success. He has proven that already."

The decision to sign Carr had more to do than him simply staying on the field. Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said Carr "fits what we do very, very well" and will help them "finish the job" on defense.

The Ravens had a top-ranked defense for much of the year when their corners were healthy. As Pees pointed out, one reason they had the NFL's best pass defense over the second half of 2015 was because everybody was on the field.

Carr is a big-framed corner at 6-foot-0, 210 pounds who is aggressive in coverage. The Ravens like to play a lot of press on the outside, and this move will allow rising rookie Tavon Young to move to nickel.

Carr is also a leader in the locker room and in the community, which is alluring to a team always looking to add more professionals to the roster.

"This guy is as good as they come, so we are looking forward to it," Pees said.

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