Ravens Secondary Working In Two More New Pieces

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The Ravens' revolving door in the secondary continues.

At this point, all Ravens coaches said to cornerback Rashaan Melvin was, "You're up."

"That's all they have to say," Melvin said. "They have nothing else to say."

Baltimore has now lost three cornerbacks to season-ending injuries: Aaron Ross (Achilles) in training camp, Jimmy Smith (foot) in Week 8, and most recently Danny Gorrer (knee) last Sunday. 

The Ravens likely won't be changing their main rotation this Sunday against Jacksonville. Anthony Levine, who left last Sunday's game in Miami with a concussion, looks to be on pace to return this week after practicing fully Thursday. He should join Lardarius Webb and Asa Jackson as the top three corners.

But with so little depth on the roster, Melvin or newly-signed Antoine Cason will serve as the Ravens' No. 4 cornerback and could have a big role if there were to be another injury.

After all, last week, the Ravens finished the game in Miami with just two healthy cornerbacks.

"Every week, we have a depth chart. And in that depth chart, there are always the what-ifs," said Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees.

"What if we lose three nickels? Who is the fourth? Or maybe you don't play nickel anymore. We always have a plan. It may not be the best person in that situation, but we've got a plan – unless we lose them all."

Cason was signed Tuesday and has since jumped into trying to learn the defense. It's not so much the playbook, because coverages don't differ much around the NFL. It's more the language. Cason said the language is "totally different" in Baltimore than in Carolina, so he is spending a lot of extra time with coaches and teammates trying to get on the same page.

He was at the Under Armour Performance Center until about 7:45 Wednesday night.

"I 100 percent was the last guy [here]," Cason said with a chuckle. "It's a lot of time, and that's OK. I'm OK with that. I'm going to get it down fairly quickly."

At the end of the week, Pees said coaches will try to evaluate how far Cason has come along to determine whether he can play Sunday and how much.

"Does he know enough that he can do the whole package, or do we have to change the whole package to give him a chance," Pees said. "What can he do?"

It's not the first time Cason has had to adjust. He spent his first five seasons with the Chargers, three of which were as a full-time starter. He then bounced to the Cardinals in 2013 and Panthers in 2014 before being released last week.

Cason started 11 games in Carolina, making 58 tackles, six pass defenses and two interceptions, but the Panthers wanted to head in a new, younger direction.

"The first time I made an adjustment from the first team to the second team, it was hard," Cason said. "Then doing it now, it's just, 'Hey, this is what it is. This is what I do. I'm going to come in, understand things, and do what I need to do.'"

Among the adjustments is getting used to a new jersey number. Cason has worn No. 20 throughout his seven-year career. But with that being Baltimore legend Ed Reed's former number, Cason backed away from it.

"I would never do that," Cason said. "He's a hell of a player. I definitely respect his game and what he's done. That goes without me even knowing him. I would not come here and wear that number. … It's interesting though. When they call 23, I don't even turn around."

If Cason isn't ready to play, the Ravens would rely on Melvin. Baltimore signed him off Miami's practice squad on Nov. 8, the day before facing the Tennessee Titans. Melvin hasn't been activated in any of following four games.

The 6-foot-2, 193-pound Northern Illinois product hasn't played in a regular-season game yet during his two-year career.

"The opportunity has called and I'm ready to be great," he said. "It's always been like that for me. I get an opportunity and I come in and perform. I believe in my talent and my ability and the coaches believe in me. I'm ready to help us win games, make it to the playoffs and hopefully to the Super Bowl."

Before the NFL realigned the divisions, Baltimore and Jacksonville duked it out in the AFC Central.

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