When presented with a challenge, Tavon Young is ready to tackle it.
Young has suffered three season-ending injuries during his career, but that didn't stop him from regaining his stature as one of the NFL's top nickel cornerbacks this season.
Young was "sick as a dog" last week, according to Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale, but still dragged himself onto the field and played eight snaps against the Steelers. Back at full strength this week, Young's presence becomes even more important after Baltimore lost All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey to a season-ending pectoral injury in Pittsburgh.
Young is capable of taking Humphrey's role playing outside opposite Anthony Averett, and Young's ability to defend the slot is proven. According to Pro Football Focus, Young has given up just 27 catches in 12 games this season, and is allowing an average of only 21.8 yards per game in coverage.
How the Ravens will deploy their secondary against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday remains to be seen, but Young is big piece of the puzzle.
"He's played outside this year a number of snaps," Harbaugh said. "He'll be inside, he'll be outside, we'll match it up the way we do, mix it up with coverages and personal groups. I'm sure he'll be ready to go and he'll play well.
"He can run, he can move, he's a great athlete. But he's tough. He's a pit bull kind of personality, and I think that's the main driving force there."
In recognition of his perseverance and performance, Young is the Ravens' 2021 winner of the Ed Block Courage Award, which recognizes a player from each team who showcases a commitment to sportsmanship and courage. The award was voted on by Young's teammates.
"This award means a lot and I fight through injuries, but when I fight through those, I always think about how other people in the world who are fighting through things that take more courage than what I do," Young said. "Kids battling diseases. I look up to those kids, or adults, whoever. I feel like I'm just born to fight."
Harbaugh Has His Award-Winning Brother's Back
With the Ravens at 8-4 despite so many key injuries, Harbaugh is a candidate to win NFL Coach of the Year.
But on Friday, another member of his family captured a prestigious award. Jim Harbaugh was named the Associated Press College Football Coach of the Year for leading Michigan to the Big Ten championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff.
Michigan's victory over Ohio State this season silenced many of Jim's critics, and his brother threw a little smoke at them after the Ravens' practice on Friday.
"I'm just really happy for him," John said. "Congratulations to Jim and the whole staff and the players. To be the Coach of the Year in college football is a pretty remarkable accomplishment. To do it the way they did it this year, after being written off by so many. I don't know, it's a good feeling. I'm proud of him. I'm happy for all of them. He's always been a great coach. And all those that want to pile on, especially some of the local media there, there you have it, back in your face. He'd never say it, but I'll say it."
Pernell McPhee Close to Returning
Veteran outside linebacker Pernell McPhee (knee) has been on injured reserve since Nov. 20, but Harbaugh said it shouldn't be long before he returns to the roster.
Getting McPhee back for the stretch run would be a lift for the defense. He's an emotional leader, a member of Baltimore's last Super Bowl winning team who wants another ring before he retires.
McPhee is a mentor for many young players and often breaks down the huddle before games, giving his teammates words of inspiration. He played his best game of the season last year during the playoff win over the Tennessee Titans, and remains a physical presence at the line of scrimmage.
"He's close," Harbaugh said. "I think he'll be back real soon."
Harbaugh Mourns Death of Demaryius Thomas
Thursday's sudden death of former Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas at age 33 shocked and saddened the NFL world.
The four-time Pro Bowler had five straight 1,000-yard seasons (2012-16) and had his best game against the Ravens in 2013, catching five passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Broncos to a 49-27 victory in Denver to open the 2013 season.
"I just feel really bad for his family," Harbaugh said. "A young man and a great player. Trying to defend him, I can tell you that, from the other side, was a hard thing to do. He was big, fast, strong, by all accounts just a first-class human being and family man. I'm really sorry to hear that news. Rest in peace."