Less than 10 months after suffering a torn ACL, Ronald Darby is one of the newest Ravens, confident he can make an immediate contribution at a key position that has been hit hard by injuries.
Baltimore signed Darby on Aug. 18 after his speedy recovery from a knee injury he suffered last year playing for the Denver Broncos. He went down on Oct. 6, and was placed on injured reserve shortly after.
Darby attacked rehab with the same focus he uses to defend wide receivers. He feels healthy and ready to play as many snaps as he's asked, as the Ravens prepare for their Sept. 10 season opener against the Texans.
"I was busting my [butt] rehabbing and running," Darby said. "I was having like two-a-days all through the week, so I made sure I put the load on my body. Knowing that I wasn't in OTAs, [and] I wasn't in the first half of camp, I made sure I did more so I could be ready and have confidence on it. That's what it's mainly about, having confidence on your knee.
"I'm ready. That's what I'm out here doing. I'm getting myself back into football shape. If I get called on, I'm going to go out there and give my all. I don't feel any doubt or anything, or I wouldn't be out there getting the reps that I'm getting."
Before his injury last year, Darby was getting high grades from Pro Football Focus. He finished as the 38th-ranked cornerback overall and had the fifth-highest run defense grade.
Despite not seeing any preseason game action, Darby could start or see significant action in the cornerback rotation, especially if All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey does not return from foot surgery in time for Week 1. Darby has eight years of NFL experience, has made 88 career starts, and has played in a variety of defenses.
Darby says he's picking up Defensive Coordinator Mike MacDonald's system quickly, and practice reps against the Ravens' receiving corps that includes Odell Beckham Jr., Zay Flowers, Rashod Bateman, and Nelson Agholor has sharpened Darby.
"This is a very talented wide receiver group," Darby said. "There were some other teams reaching out to my agent, but it's a great fit here. I'm really impressed by the defense – how they communicate; how driven they are; how each day they come out ready to work. I came later in [training] camp, and they gave me first-week energy once I first got out here. The guys were flying around on both sides of the ball. I like that."