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NFL Stage Isn't Too Big For Rookie Cornerback Tavon Young

Tavon Young tips the scales at 5-foot-9, 177 pounds, making him the lightest and second-shortest (tied) player on the Ravens.

But when Baltimore drafted the Temple cornerback in the fourth round, reporters were told that Young played bigger than his size, that he has a scrappiness about him.

So far, Young has proven them right. He's shown that the NFL isn't too big for him.

Young leads the Ravens defensive backs in pass breakups thus far in training camp. He's also been one of the top playmakers on the unit.

"Nothing has really taken me by surprise. I expected a tough camp, good players," Young said after Thursday's practice. "I feel like I can run with anybody, cover them, make plays, all that."

Young has been running with the second- and third-team defenses thus far as veteran Jerraud Powers has the inside track on the starting nickel cornerback job. The Ravens wanted to give Young more time to develop so they signed Powers to a one-year contract this offseason. Young, however, has taken to the defense quicker than perhaps expected.

"We all give him advice, but obviously he's out here making a lot of plays and getting a lot of reps," cornerback Jimmy Smith said. "I think that, for a rookie, this stage isn't too big for him at all. … He's getting to the ball and I think he might be on the field this year."

Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said he's been impressed by the way Young has worked, and said he's "really good in the classroom, pays attention and stays on top of things."

"We went through a lot in OTAs and rookie camp; that's when a rookie catches on and learns," Young said. "Once training camp came, I was already on it."

Young is often in close coverage with his receiver, leading to the high number of breakups. There haven't been any glaring blown coverages, though he has been deep a couple times on nice throws and catches.

In one of his most impressive practices, Young came up with a pair of interceptions, including one off a tipped ball and another he made himself when sealing off Kaelin Clay on a deep pass. Young also had the quickness and vision to weave through the offense on his return.

"The thing I like is I've seen some production out of him," Pees said. "He shows up around the ball, and his name gets mentioned when we're in there watching the film a lot."

Secondary Coach Leslie Frazier said Young "gets better every single day."

"He is doing a very good job playing both the corner position and the nickel slot position," Frazier said. "The game has not been too big for him as a rookie. [I'm] anxious to see how he will play once we start playing against other opponents, but he has been terrific here in training camp."

While Young would love a role on defense this season, he said himself that his avenue to being active on gameday is on special teams. He'll be called upon to be an edge gunner and blocker on punts and kickoffs, and has been getting reps at kickoff returner. He committed a penalty that would have negated a long return Thursday, but blocked a field goal in the same practice.

"He plays fast," Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. "He is a quick athlete and a fast athlete. We are trying to get him ready to go on special teams where he can use that talent."

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