Jimmy Smith can’t hide his excitement about the Ravens’ trade for cornerback Marcus Peters.
Once Smith recovers from his knee injury that has kept him sidelined for five weeks, he envisions Baltimore having a secondary with limitless flexibility.
Marlon Humphrey, Peters and Smith are all corners who’ve been good enough to shadow the other team’s top receiver. Meanwhile, few NFL corners are more versatile or experienced than Brandon Carr, who has played outside, in the slot, and at safety.
Smith believes no other team will have a four-corner rotation as talented. He views it as a huge advantage that Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale will be able to exploit.
“I’d be happy to be a D-coordinator right now, to deploy us on any receiver, to figure out schemes,” Smith said. “When you have a guy who gets turnovers the way he (Peters) does … it’s kind of like – do what you want to do. You can play man, you can play zone. You can match up anybody. It makes our defense faster, more dangerous. Anything can happen at any point, then having a safety back there like Earl (Thomas III)? It could be a very, very dangerous thing.”
Before Peters arrived, Smith felt fine about rotating snaps with Humphrey and Carr. Adding Peters to the equation doesn’t change Smith’s viewpoint. He believes there will be roles and playing time for all four of the top corners, and he has gotten used to the idea of not playing every snap.
“At first it’s a little weird because you’re a starting corner, you want to be on the field at all times,” Smith said. “But then you realize how fresh it keeps you. It’s a benefit to your play.”
Smith said he wasn’t certain when he will return, with his status for Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks yet to be determined. He returned to practice for the first time this week on a limited basis and the bye is next week.
But he’s thankful his injury in Week 1 wasn’t season-ending. It was a fluke injury, suffered when teammate Patrick Onwuasor inadvertently rolled into Smith’s knee early in the win over Miami. Smith, 31, said he originally thought it was an ACL tear, that “kind of scared me for my career.”
“There’s 20 some people out there and it had to be me,” Smith said. “Story of my career a little bit. It was frustrating, very frustrating.
“But everything happens for a reason. Who knows? Maybe we wouldn’t have gotten Marcus Peters if all that didn’t happen. Maybe we win the Super Bowl because of all this.”
Martindale Compares Russell Wilson to Steph Curry
Dealing with Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is priority No. 1 for the Ravens defense this weekend. He’s playing the best football of his career with 14 touchdown passes, no interceptions, and a league-best 124.7 quarterback rating.
Wilson is also completing 72.5 percent of his passes, accurate enough to beat teams from the pocket, yet creative enough to make plays with his arm or legs once he escapes. Martindale compared Wilson to NBA superstar Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, a deadly long-range shooter who also beats defenders with moves off the dribble.
“It’s been mentioned before, he (Wilson) is playing at an MVP level and I agree with that,” Martindale said. “It’s sort of like playing against Steph Curry. If you pick him up at halfcourt, he’s going to drive by you. You slack off, he’s going to pull up and hit the three. [Wilson is] playing at a very high level right now.”
Humphrey says he’s looking forward to playing against Wilson for the first time.
“Russell, he really can get it done,” Humphrey said. “I'm pretty excited. I've been doing this for a while. Just to be on the same field against him ... I'm not really saying I'm a fan, but he's Russell Wilson. He’s a pretty big deal.”
Seahawks Linebackers Present Challenge for Ravens Rushing Attack
Baltimore enters Sunday’s game No. 1 in the NFL in rushing, averaging 205 yards per game. Lamar Jackson carried the ground attack in Week 5, running for 152 yards and a touchdown, while Mark Ingram II and Gus Edwards are both averaging more than four yards per carry.
That gives the Seahawks defense plenty to think about, but they have perhaps the league’s fastest linebacking corps in middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, flanked by K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks. Getting outside against the Seahawks figures to be tougher for Jackson than it was against Cincinnati, which may factor into Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman’s game plan.
“It jumps off the film at you, the instincts, the speed,” Roman said of Seattle’s linebackers. “Obviously, the body of work they’ve put on film over the years, tremendous. You’ve got to take that into account when you’re playing them. I don’t know that I really want to give away the plan. Nice try. But I think you have to take that into account. You’ve got three really good instinctive, experienced players there. You better take that into account.”
On Wednesday, Earl Thomas III said part of the reason he was “phased out” of Seattle was because the Seahawks wanted to load up at linebacker.
“They were thinking more linebackers that you see,” Thomas said. “They've got the three-headed monster with K.J., Bobby and Kendricks. And obviously, Coach [Ken] Norton is the ‘D’ coordinator. He's a linebacker at heart. So I understood what was going on."
House Call by Bengals on Kickoff Return Puts Ravens Special Teams on Alert
The Ravens want to avoid a repeat of Week 6, when the Cincinnati Bengals opened the game with a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It was the first kickoff returned for a touchdown against Baltimore since Oct. 2, 2011.
Beating a team as good as Seattle (5-1) will likely require strong special teams play, and Special Teams Coach Chris Horton had no problem getting players’[add] attention this week.
“Address the obvious, the 92-yard kickoff return, very disappointing play,” Horton said. “It really starts with me. I think we could’ve just made a better call there. When we put that ball in play, our guys got to go cover. They feel the same way I feel, very disappointed, because we’re way better than that.”
Horton expects a better performance on coverage this week.
“After last week, we’ll make sure that we’re ready to play,” Horton said. “I’ll get them right.”