The preseason was all too familiar for cornerback Lardarius Webb.
He spent all four games watching from the sidelines, hindered by a hamstring injury that also cost him a chunk of training camp. The early injury is a frustrating trend for Webb, who went his second year in a row without taking any preseason reps.
"That's just kind of been part of my career," Webb said. "It seems like it's an every year thing."
The Ravens were cautious with the seven-year veteran this summer, giving him time heal instead of rushing him back to the field. He returned ahead of the preseason finale and has practiced the last two weeks.
He's not even listed on the Week 1 injury report and is expected to start Sunday in Denver.
"I'm very confident. I had the time to rest and get my body right in training camp," Webb said. "Now I'm just excited to be back part of the defense."
Getting Webb back on the field is vital for a secondary that was the undoing of the defense last year because of a litany of injuries. Webb dealt with a back issue for most of the season and by his own admission didn't play at a high level until late in the year.
Fellow starting corner Jimmy Smith then suffered a season-ending foot injury in Week 8, forcing the Ravens to go to the free-agent market to replenish the unit.
Now Smith and Webb are both healthy, which has been rare throughout their careers.
"It feels good that Jimmy Smith and I get to be healthy and be on the field together at the same time," Webb said. "It's been a while. We've been on the field, but we weren't both healthy. Something was wrong with one of us. But it will be nice to be out there with both of us ready to play at the top of our game."
Despite the recent injuries, the Ravens still have high hopes for what Webb and Smith can do as a tandem. The Ravens showed their faith in Smith this offseason by giving him a four-year extension reportedly worth $48 million.
Webb has said in the past that he could see the two of them as one of the league's top cornerback pairs, and that attitude hasn't changed.
"We've already said what we want to be as a duo," Webb said. "There's a lot of great duos around the NFL, and we want to be one of those great ones. For us to do that, we have to go out and do our job."
Smith also has confidence that Webb will be ready to make a difference for the defense.
"I'm not too worried about Webb missing the preseason," Smith said. "I know he knows how to play the game. He knows what he's looking for; he's a smart player. I think he'll be ready to go."
Webb will certainly face a difficult assignment as he gets back in the lineup.
He won't have much time to get re-acclimated to the field because future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning will be looking for ways to exploit Baltimore's defense with his big-play receivers Damaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
"It's a great test with the two wide receivers they got – two explosive, dangerous guys," Webb said. "It's just going to take me to get out there with the guys and get a hit or something to get back into it. It shouldn't take long."