New Ravens safety Kendrick Lewis is a pretty reserved guy, but he knows what talks.
So when the Ravens defensive backs have a wayward pass go through their hands, Lewis has a message for them.
“‘You’re dropping that money. You’re leaving that money on the field,’” Lewis tells them.
“We feel like there’s money in those balls. Those are money balls; that’s what we call them. So you drop one, you owe us 10 pushups, and that’s money you left out there on the grass.”
The Ravens secondary knows it needs more turnovers this season.
The Ravens notched just 11 interceptions last year, tied for the seventh-fewest in the league. It’s not a good sign when Baltimore defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley tied with for team high in picks (two each).
Baltimore’s secondary only notched six picks, and three of them came from players no longer with the team. Cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith and safety Will Hill each got one. The others came from former safeties Jeromy Miles and Darian Stewart and cornerback Danny Gorrer.
The addition of Lewis should help. The veteran notched two interceptions last year (nine career) and forced three fumbles. His presence on the back end should help Baltimore create more havoc.
“I hope it’s not potential. It has to become a reality,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
“We need to create turnovers. We need to be a defense across the board that people fear in the sense that you want to throw the ball out there [and] there’s a good chance it’s going to come back the other way.”
Harbaugh said creating turnovers has been a “big emphasis” so far in training camp. At the same time, he tells defensive backs not to collide with receivers because he doesn’t want injuries.
“I’m on the DBs now. I’m going to tell them, ‘I want to see some plays made, but I don’t want you guys getting tangled up,’” Harbaugh said. “You expect both of those things from guys, which is a challenge. But they do a good job with it, and we’ll be playing somebody else soon enough, so that’ll be good.”
The message has apparently been received.
The Ravens’ defenders have been making plays throughout the summer. Just in the last three practices, Lewis, Smith, Webb, safety Brynden Trawick, safety Anthony Levine and rookie free agent safety Nick Perry have all notched interceptions.
Lewis said it’s something they talk about when watching film, trying to pinpoint opportunities to intersect a route.
“We’re communicating, ‘Hey, listen, I’m jumping this one. Protect me here,’” Lewis said. “That’s the type of chemistry we’re building in the secondary.”
Smith brought up a good point about interceptions that limit*s *Baltimore. The Ravens are mostly a man-to-man coverage team. A lot of interceptions come from tips and overthrows, which particularly benefits a zone-coverage team because they are reacting more to the pass than the offensive player.
Smith said he obviously wants more picks because “that’s the good stuff.”
“That’s draining a three from half court in somebody’s face,” he said.
But he’s not going to specifically chase interceptions. Smith only has five of them in his four-year career.
“My strength over my career, obviously, hasn’t been getting a lot of picks,” he said.
“But what I do is I eliminate the guy in front of me or on my side of the field, and I feel like that’s a strength in itself. Every corner wants to have 12 picks, but to me, honestly, I don’t think that’s what makes you the best corner, because you can have a corner out here that takes chances all day and gets a lot of picks, but gets burnt every game.”