After spending two months sidelined with a back injury, veteran cornerback Lardarius Webb made his 2014 debut last week against the Cleveland Browns.
The first game of the year wasn't a triumphant return, as Webb saw only four defensive snaps and the Ravens ended up using cornerback Asa Jackson for most of the game. The Ravens are easing Webb into action, and make his adjustments on the field as needed.
"The only way it's going to come back is to keep getting reps out here, and getting it back," Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said. "It's not going to get it back by sitting him on the sidelines, or sitting him on the sideline in practice, and not practicing. So, we have to keep getting him back."
The Ravens tested Webb by activating him against the Browns, but the coaches saw early in the game that he wasn't playing like his normal self.
"When I saw it in the press box, I said, 'He's not there yet,'" Pees said. "And game speed is faster than practice speed. There's no way to simulate it. But he has to keep practicing, and he has to feel very confident that he can do it. That's half the battle playing the back end, you better feel confident that you can do it."
Webb, 28, went down with the injury on the second day of training camp and missed the entire preseason. He has been back on the practice field for the last several weeks, but the Ravens have been cautious about rushing him into full-speed action.
"The guys missed all of training camp," Pees said. "All that kind of stuff is where game speed [is developed], especially when we scrimmage and stuff like that. It's different in practice. So, he has to keep coming back, and it's not his fault. It's not anybody's fault."
When Webb is healthy, he's one of the Ravens'best defenders and among the top cornerbacks in the AFC. He's proven over the last few years that he has the ability to play inside or outside, and it's unknown how his full return will impact the secondary.
Third-year defender Asa Jackson has proven that he's a solid defender in the slot, and the Ravens could experiment a bit with Webb and Jackson.
"We would be fortunate if we had both those guys, because each one of them could play, and the other guy would go outside," Pees said. "We have to make that determination once he's back."