One year ago, Ravens cornerback Fabian Washington was toiling on the Oakland Raiders' bench, a fall from grace that began as a former first-round draft pick and ended as a backup.
Benched because of what he describes as a lack of focus that led to poor tackling, Washington has been getting the job done in Baltimore after landing here for a fourth-round selection this past April. He may only boast eight stops through three games, but Washington's worth goes beyond just tackles.
"He seems to be getting them down here," said Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan of Washington's tackling ability. "Let's hope that trend continues. Fabian's a big part of what we have here."
A quick look at the injury report shows how much the Ravens have needed Washington. Baltimore is missing two starters in its secondary – cornerback Samari Rolle (neck/shoulder) and safety Dawan Landry (neck). The other Pro Bowl corner in the group, Chris McAlister, is fighting through a sore knee.
Washington, 25, himself has been dealing with injuries. A tweaked hamstring kept him out of the Ravens' preseason finale, a neck injury caused him to miss Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns and a dislocated right shoulder sidelined him for an Oct. 12 matchup with the Indianapolis Colts.
All the nicks and bruises have been irritating, but they are also things Washington realizes he must endure throughout the season.
"Getting hurt this year, it's something I've never been through in all my years of playing football," Washington said. "For me to miss two games already out of six for injury, it's killing me."
Especially because he wants to continue showing his new teammates that the player he was in Oakland doesn't exist anymore.
For that matter, the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder also has a chance this weekend to showcase the new Fabian to his former team, but that's far from a major concern.
"It's a little extra, of course, just because they're my old team and I've got a lot of friends still out there," he said in his typically thoughtful manner. "But I'm still taking it as just another game. I'm preparing the same way.
"I don't think [there is] anything else I can do to prepare more for this game that I didn't do the last game. If I could, then that would mean I was cheating myself the last game. So, I'm going to prepare the same."
The Ravens really never needed to be convinced of Washington's value. For one, Ryan could have simply picked up the phone and called his twin brother, Rob, who is the Raiders' defensive coordinator. In addition, Ravens secondary coach Chuck Pagano spent 2005-06 tutoring Oakland's defensive backs.
"[Pagano] was very familiar with Fabian," Rex Ryan said. "We watched the tapes and all that. We thought Fabian would be our kind of player, and that's why we made the trade for him, and we're happy with all of that."
One blip on the radar was a domestic battery charge last season that caused Washington to serve a one-game suspension, but the Ravens are confident he's put that behind him.
"All we know is what we've seen of him here this year, and Fabian's been a real professional," said head coach John Harbaugh. "Obviously, he's a very talented guy. He's had some of the injury things which we want to continue to work through, and he's worked hard.
"He's one of the better practice corners that I've seen since I've been in the league. He really practices well, and I think it reflects in how he plays."
Washington is certainly thankful he's getting a chance to make plays in Ryan's attacking defense.
And while he admits he enjoyed the opportunity to play under his current coordinator's brother, Washington considers his most-recent move a second chance.
"I love the defense out in Oakland, and I love the defense here," he said.
"This is a much better situation for me. Here, you're pretty much allowed to just go out and play football, [and you] don't worry about anything else."
When asked to compare the two franchises with which he's played, all Washington could do was say, "It's different. It's definitely different playing out there."