Tests confirmed Monday that Webb, a rare bright spot on the Ravens' fading defense, needed knee surgery and would miss the rest of the season. More bad news came later in the day when the team learned that linebacker
Arguably their most valuable defender, Webb, 27, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the first quarter of Sunday's 31-29 win over the
"These are guys who put so much effort, heart and soul into what they do," Harbaugh said Monday at his weekly news conference. "Lardarius [Sunday] was distraught. I could see it when I walked on the field — on his face. You kind of knew because he has been through it before. And I just felt like he knew. And he was just beside himself."
Webb, who shredded the ACL in his right knee during his rookie season nearly three years ago, will undergo surgery to repair his left knee with renowned
The Ravens, who as of Sunday ranked 26th in total defense and 23rd against the pass, must now overcome the loss of a player many
"I'm biased, but I would say he was the best," Harbaugh said of the fourth-year player. "Maybe some other people would question that, but I don't question it. I see him every day. I wouldn't take anybody over Lardarius Webb. He will be back. He has been through this before. He will rehab like crazy and he'll be back next year, stronger than ever. He's just that kind of guy."
The Ravens showed Webb how much they thought of him in April when they signed him to a five-year, $50 million contract extension. In 41 career games, Webb has intercepted eight passes, recorded 181 tackles and broken up 41 passes. He had one interception this season, and he hasn't given up a touchdown since the final month of the 2010 regular season.
Smith, a tall, rangy cornerback who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, competed with
Asked after Sunday's game if he was up for the challenge, he said, without blinking, "I'm ready."
"I think I'll be starting for a while," the confident 24-year-old said. "I'm very excited. That's what I've been waiting for. It's my time to shine, which is good, but I feel bad for Webb. Lardarius is a special type of guy with a lot of talent. He brings such an impact to our defense that it hurts."
The area where Webb was most effective was in the slot, where he used his quickness and tenacity to stick to shifty receivers in the middle of the field. When the Ravens used their nickel package, Webb would move to the slot with Williams and Smith manning the outside.
Harbaugh indicated Monday that veteran
"Corey has been in there. Corey will do a good job in there, and he won't be the only one," Harbaugh said. "We've got a couple guys who can play in there. … The thing I like about Corey is he can play outside, he can play inside and he can play safety. So, he gives us a lot of versatility there."
With Webb sidelined for most of Sunday's game and with Smith also missing snaps with a
Harbaugh said he thought the reserve corners "acquitted themselves well" in Webb's absence.
The Ravens now move forward without Webb and Lewis, who tore his right triceps in the fourth quarter. The future of Lewis is unclear, but Webb's teammates expect him to come back strong.
"I'm hurting for that guy right now," safety
Baltimore Sun reporter Aaron Wilson contributed to this article.