In his first two seasons with the
Regardless of Webb's situation, the Ravens are going to need a corner to step up in 2013, and the obvious candidate is Smith.
When Webb got hurt back in Week 6, a loss that was greater than losing Ray Lewis to a triceps injury, Smith finally ascended to the starting lineup. (Back in training camp, many assumed that Smith would be given a starting spot then, but he couldn’t beat out Williams.) Smith’s play was adequate, but he soon would need sports hernia surgery. When he returned in Week 15,
Because he still wasn’t completely healthy, the Ravens eased Smith back onto the field. He played just two defensive snaps in the wild-card win over the
Smith played just 18 snaps against the
"I think those plays right there are gonna go an awful long way for him," defensive coordinator Dean Pees said an interview with 105.7 The Fan, according to the team's official website. "I think he's a tremendous talent. I've seen a difference in him already here in the offseason. This guy has been around here all winter."
The top three cornerbacks at this early point in the offseason are Webb, Graham and Smith. Technically, only two of those players will be labeled as starters, but all three should be considered as such given how often opposing offenses use three-receiver sets. The Ravens also have third-year cornerback
A starting job is there for Smith, who turns 25 this summer, to seize, but it's certainly not going to be handed to him.
"The best guy has to play," secondary coach Teryl Austin said. "It doesn't matter where you're drafted and how you got here. If you're here and are performing the best, you're going to play."
Austin might have been speaking about the uncertain strong safety position when he said that, but it applies to the entire secondary. After all, Williams was signed off a practice squad and he started.
Williams is gone now. While he was by no means a lock-down cornerback, he was a steady starter who could be counted on to play every week, something that cannot yet be said about Smith, who missed nine games in his first two
At 6 feet 2 and 205 pounds, Smith could potentially offset the loss of the size and swagger that Williams took with him to Philadelphia. And Smith has more natural ability.
Two years into his young career, though, we are still talking about his potential and not his production.
It is still too early to write Smith off, but the Ravens need him to finally start meeting the hype in 2013.