When veteran defensive back Lardarius Webb re-signed with the Ravens in April, less than a month after they initially released him, he had no illusions about what his role would be.
The Ravens had already signed safety Tony Jefferson and cornerback Brandon Carr, and would go on to add cornerback Marlon Humphrey in the first round of the NFL Draft a few weeks later. They also had promising young corners Tavon Young and Maurice Canady, who were likely ahead of him on the depth chart.
After six years as a starter in Baltimore’s secondary, the 31-year-old defender was returning as a backup.
“Honestly, I knew my role,” Webb said after a recent training camp practice.
But Webb’s role has changed considerably over the last few months. He’s back in the starting lineup at nickel back after knee injuries to Young and Canady, and he’s impressed the coaching staff with how well he’s performed.
“He’s having the best camp he’s had in a while,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “I really love the way he’s playing, love his attitude, everything about what he’s doing, leadership-wise is part of it, but he’s doing it by example. He’s doing it by the way he practices and the way he plays every single day.”
Webb has been consistent and durable throughout the summer. In a training camp where the Ravens have lost players to injury at seemingly every position, Webb hasn’t missed a day. He’s gone from struggling with injuries early in his career to missing just one game over the last two seasons.
He also has more experience in Baltimore’s defense than everyone other than outside linebacker Terrell Suggs. He’s played every position in the secondary, and that jack-of-all-trades ability makes him an incredibly valuable asset.
“I’m whatever they need me to be,” he said. “Punt returner, kick returner, nickel, corner, safety. I’m here. I’m very valuable. In the secondary I’ve played every position, so I can actually coach up and teach the guys all those positions.”
Webb has also grown considerably in the leadership department. Getting cut and then re-signed was a humbling experience, but he didn’t return with a sour attitude. He’s constantly working with young players and he believes in teaching them what it takes to be a Raven.
“I’m actually enjoying this camp,” Webb said. “I’m just taking on the role of making sure everybody is in the right spot, the youngins are doing it the right way, doing it the Raven way.”
Webb said he’d like to go into coaching when his career is over, likely at the high school level, and he’s getting a taste of it this season.
He’s on the back-nine of his career, but he’s content with that. He’s gone from the team’s top cornerback to a do-it-all backup, and he has no qualms with how he fits into his new era of Baltimore’s defense.
“I’m having fun playing, but I’m also having fun coaching them and teaching them,” Webb said. “It’s a different part of the career, but I’m loving it the most.”