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Lardarius Webb Surprised to Already Have Two Picks? Shoot, He's Surprised to Be on the Field


It was a routine question: Did you expect to be tied for the team lead in interceptions with two in the Ravens' first two games?

But Lardarius Webb didn't give a routine answer.

"No. I didn't even plan on being on the field … seriously," the veteran defensive back told reporters Wednesday.

He was speaking around noon, fully dressed for practice except for his helmet. It was hard not to notice that his dark beard was flecked with thick streaks of gray.

"But I am (on the field) and I'm blessed to be on the field," he continued.

It's been quite a journey lately. Baltimore cut Webb in March, seemingly ending his long tenure as a Raven. The Ravens re-signed him weeks later, envisioning him in a lesser role, as a "utility infielder" who could provide backup depth at different positions.

But when Tavon Young and Maurice Canady went down with major injuries over the spring and summer, Webb regained a front-line job as the slot cornerback.

"Some unfortunate things have happened for me to be on the field. Those were the guys who were probably going to have that job," Webb said of Young and Canady.  "I was going to be teaching them. I was going to be the player-coach."

Instead, he's on the field and producing. He intercepted a pass in the Ravens' season-opening win in Cincinnati, then intercepted another last Sunday against Cleveland.

Webb and Brandon Carr each have two picks and four other defenders have one apiece, giving the Ravens a league-high eight interceptions.

"I'm just enjoying being out on the field, just being a part of this defense," Webb said. "With the talent we have, it's amazing. I'm just loving the role that I'm playing."

Long one of the Ravens' most physical defense backs, he is contributing more than just picks. In the season opener, he had three solo tackles. Sunday, he tracked down Cleveland running back Isaiah Crowell and delivered a fierce hit on the game's first play, sending a clear signal to the Browns about what lay ahead.

Why is he playing so well?

"The guys around me. I'm going to stick to that (as an explanation)," Webb said. "With those guys, the way they attack the quarterback, the way they rush the quarterback, the way (Defensive Coordinator) Dean Pees is calling the plays for us, putting us in the right positions, I'm able to make plays."

Webb listed what he sees as the defense's top qualities – the leadership provided by Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley and Eric Weddle; the stout run defense led by Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce; the blend of youth and experience; and the secondary bolstered by free-agent acquisitions such as Weddle and Carr.

"I'm going to put it on (GM) Ozzie Newsome and the organization, bringing in a lot of talent over these last years," he said.

Webb, 31, made it clear that he isn't expecting to continue to play so much when Young and Canady return this year and in 2018.

"I was sorry to see that happen to Tavon. He'll be back strong. And Maurice was having such an amazing camp. We can't wait to get him back," Webb said.

For now, though, he is the one getting the snaps. At Wednesday's practice, the Ravens began to prepare for Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, whose offense features rookie running back Leonard Fournette.

"If I see Fournette, I will hit him," Webb said. "Hopefully Brandon (Williams) will hit him first."

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