Will Jimmy Smith Shadow Antonio Brown?


Jimmy Smith has heard the same question for the last three weeks.

Is he going to shadow the opposing team's best receiver?

This week it's Antonio Brown on the schedule, and Smith gave no hints about whether he'll be following the Steelers dynamic wideout all over the field.

"That is not my call," Smith said. "That is the defensive coaching staff's call. Whenever they call my name, that is where I will play. I have matched up on him before, and there are games where I haven't matched up on him. It is whatever the coaches want."

The Ravens have deployed Smith in a variety of fashions this season.

The sixth-year cornerback shadowed New York Jets receiver Brandon Marshall for most of the Week 7 matchup, holding him to just 39 receiving yards. Smith also shadowed Buffalo Bills receiver Sammy Watkins and Cleveland Browns receiver Terrelle Pryor earlier in the year.

But Baltimore went with a different approach against New York Giants standout receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in Week 6, and kept Smith on his normal side of the field (before he left the game with a concussion).

"It's just easy for everybody to say, 'Put this guy on that guy.' There's so many things that come into account," Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said. "Is it really a good matchup? Does your best corner or defensive back match up against their best receiver's style? Second thing is where do they put the receiver? Is he a guy that moves all over the place? Is he a guy that's always in one spot?"

Another piece to consider is the type of receiver. Marshall (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) is a big target, and the best matchup was to have Smith (6-2, 210) keep track of him.

Brown (5-10, 181) is a completely different body type, and he relies on his quickness to get open rather than his size. Smith can thrive as a physical press corner against big targets, but he also has to keep up with Brown's burst off the line of scrimmage.

"Brandon is a big guy that is going to go up and get a jump ball," Smith said. "With Antonio, he is more of a catch-and-run [receiver]. He can catch a slant and take it 60 yards; that is his game. You prepare a little bit differently in some of your technique and what you want to do."

Brown has seen a little bit of everything from teams trying to stop him this season, and he seems to like the competition that comes along with teams trying to match him up against a particular corner all day. When asked on a conference call with Baltimore reporters whether he expects the Ravens to try that approach against him, Brown responded, "I wish."

"It is pretty much them saying, 'Our guy is better than your guy,'" Brown said. "You do not have to worry about two guys, you have to worry about one guy. It is easier when you study one guy instead of having to deal with two guys, maybe three."

The Ravens have not shadowed Brown in their matchups with him over the years, and they have actually been one of the few teams to keep him contained. In 11 career games against Baltimore, Smith has averaged 59 receiving yards and scored just one touchdown.

But the Ravens also know he can break out at any point. Brown is currently eighth in the league in total receiving yards (592), and stopping him won't be an easy assignment no matter who defends him.

"We know each other. We know what they are trying to do to us. They know what we are trying to do to them," Smith said. "Some of the game plan is obviously directed towards him, so we are doing what we are supposed to do if we keep him with minimal yards and catches."

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