Skip to main content

Jimmy Smith 'Will Make History' As Cornerback


This is what the Ravens had in mind when they drafted Jimmy Smith in the first round of the 2011 draft.

The cornerback has developed into one of the team's elite defenders during his fourth NFL season, and he's had impressive back-to-back games to open the 2014 season.

Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh didn't shy away from heaping praise on his budding cornerback after Baltimore's 26-6 victory over the Steelers.

"I believe Jimmy Smith is going to make history as a cornerback," Harbaugh said. "I believed that from the day he got here."

Smith turned in another stellar performance Thursday against the Steelers, as he mostly limited Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown. Smith matched up against Brown for most of the night, and the Steelers top target finished with seven catches for 90 yards. Not all of those catches came with Smith in coverage.

Defending Brown was a tough duty for Smith, as he's a matchup problem for the 6-foot-2 cornerback. Brown, 5-foot-10 and 186 pounds, is a much smaller receiver who can work the middle of the field. Smith is a long cornerback built to defend* *big receivers out on the edge.

"I think the matchup tonight for me is something I've never done," Smith said. Being so big and then matching up against someone so much smaller than me, who is so shifty, that doesn't play to my strength. But it showed me a little bit more about myself and my game. And it showed me how much the coaches believe in me."

Smith had to defend Brown because the Ravens secondary has been riddled with injuries. Smith and Chykie Brown were the only two cornerbacks playing in the second half after Lardarius Webb was inactive again with a back injury and Asa Jackson left the game in the second quarter with a concussion.

Even with a limited secondary, the Ravens still held quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to 217 passing yards and an interception. The impressive performance against Pittsburgh comes a week after Smith guarded Bengals Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green, and allowed just three catches for 17 yards while in coverage.

Smith's development has taken time. He battled through injuries early in his career and struggled to stay on the field. He emerged as a full-time starter last season and was one of the team's best defenders by the end of the year.

Now he seems poised to take another step.

"I've watched [Smith] progress," Harbaugh said. "He's one of the most coachable, teachable, hard-working, smart, talented players you're going to find. And you're seeing the fruits of that labor."

As the acclaim of Smith continues, he insists that he's not buying into it. He faced plenty of criticism early in his career, and he knows how quickly life can change for a cornerback.

"I'm a corner. I forget quick," Smith said. "The next play could be a touchdown over my head, or I could miss a tackle, or something like that. I like to keep it even-keel. That's why I don't really celebrate too much. I don't want to get too hyped up and then something bad happens. I try to keep it even-keel, and I'm just going to take it week by week."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content