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Jimmy Smith Expects a New Hybrid Role in Ravens Defense

CB Jimmy Smith in action during an NFL game.
CB Jimmy Smith in action during an NFL game.

Jimmy Smith has grown accustomed to being a starting outside cornerback. After all, he's the prototype at the position – big, long, physical, fast.

But in the wake of his new one-year deal with the Ravens, and with Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters – both Pro Bowlers last year – on the same team, Smith knows things are changing.

Smith started five of the nine games he played in last season. In the previous six years, he started every game he suited up for except for two.

Moving forward, Smith said it's clear that he'll be Baltimore's No. 3 corner on the outside and No. 4 overall, including slot corner Tavon Young.

"It's a new role, a new phase of football for me in a sense. I'm excited to take that on," Smith said on "The Lounge" podcast.

"Initially, you're like, 'I've got to go prove I can still be a starter in this league.' But I took a step back and realized this could be a blessing. I'm still going to get to play a ton, play for my team, but also not have as much wear and tear on my body and help me play this game I love for as long as I want."

Smith will turn 32 years old in July. He already ceded snaps to Humphrey and Peters last year as those two hardly came off the field, but still saw a lot of action.

With Young sidelined and the Ravens in nickel formation so much, Smith still saw 72 percent of the defensive snaps last year (subtracting the regular-season opener when he was injured early and the regular-season finale) with Humphrey moving inside. Once Young returns, that will change.

The Ravens will likely deploy some kind of rotation on the outside to keep Humphrey and Peters fresher, but Smith envisions more than just backup duty with the possibility of being called into action by injury.

Last year, veteran cornerback Brandon Carr moved into a hybrid cornerback/safety role that allowed Chuck Clark to occasionally play closer to the line of scrimmage. With the Ravens opting not to pick up Carr's option, that could be something Smith explores moving forward.

"I didn't take any reps, but I definitely started looking at safety a lot more last year, just messing around with it," Smith said. "I feel like they could deploy me on some tight ends or something like that. I definitely think I'll be in some type of new role."

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