It's flown under the radar, but one of the Ravens' most talented cornerbacks is set to return to the field.
Tavon Young has recovered from his torn ACL and expects to participate in Ravens Organized Team Activities (OTAs), which kick off next week.
"I feel like I'm back – back to normal," Young said. "We'll see, but I think I'm going to go full-go."
It was about a year ago (June 1) when Young went down in OTAs with a torn ACL. There was hardly any contact. He just crumpled to the turn while attempting an interception.
It was a freak accident to a player who had never suffered a major injury. He had never missed a full season. What made it even more difficult was that Young was coming off such a strong rookie campaign.
Young was one of the Ravens' biggest surprises of 2016. The fourth-round rookie started 11 games, made 53 tackles, broke up eight passes and snagged two interceptions. The 5-foot-9 Temple product showed off his scrappy play, athleticism and ball skills.
Heading into his second season, Young was going to get a chance to blossom in the corner slot position, which is where he always projected to be best suited.
"That was the tough part. I was trying to come back and have a strong year, but I had the injury that put me down for a little bit," Young said. "It was a little rough at the beginning, but with time, as my knee was feeling better, I was just like, 'It's a part of the game.'"
Young missed the entire season as the Ravens plugged veteran Lardarius Webb, Maurice Canady and Jaylen Hill into the slot and used a rotation of Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr and Marlon Humphrey as the top three outside cornerbacks.
Now the Ravens are still in need of a true slot cornerback, and adding Young back into the rotation would make a strong position group even stronger. The Ravens still have Smith, Humphrey, Carr and Canady as returning key cornerbacks, and added fourth-round Alabama rookie Anthony Averett.
"I'm just glad to be back with my teammates," Young said. "I'm here to compete and have fun, help us win games."
Young said he could run again in December, but was glad he didn't have to rush back to the field. With a full year to recover and rehab, he's rebuilt his strength. He's been at the Under Armour Performance Center through the entire process, and has already participated in on-field work this offseason.
Young said several of the Ravens veterans helped him get over the injury. One case in recent history has some similarities.
In 2009, Lardarius Webb was having a standout rookie season but tore his ACL in late December. He returned in Week 2 the following year, then assumed a full-time starting role in his third season. Webb rebounded to become a top-flight cornerback and was re-signed to a long-term deal.
"I'm even hungrier to be great," Young said. "I'm happy; it feels like a gift. I'm thankful because I get to play again."