Smith nodded affirmatively before matching wide receiver
Now that starting cornerback
"Jimmy will be ready," strong safety
Drafted in the first round last year with the 27th overall pick, Smith represents the
The Ravens have seen glimpses of his potential throughout the season while he operated as the nickel back.
In 18 career games and three starts, Smith has recorded 34 tackles, two interceptions and 11 pass deflections.
"Jimmy Smith's got great physical tools," NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell said. "Ultimately to me, he's a press corner. Sometimes, you can't play press every snap in the NFL. He hasn't been terrible, but he's not quite been the player I thought he had a chance to be coming out of the draft. I would say his ability at this point is better than his production."
While Smith has 4.42 speed in the 40-yard dash, a 36-inch vertical leap and bench pressed 225 pounds 24 times at the NFL scouting combine two years ago, the California native hasn't provided consistency and is prone to penalties.
Smith leads the defense with five penalties this season. He committed three penalties against Dallas, including encroachment, pass interference and defensive holding in the second half after replacing Webb.
Opposing quarterbacks have found success throwing in Smith's direction 24 times, completing 15 of them. That includes a 49-yard pass to
In college, Smith drew comparisons to Philadelphia Eagles quarterback
"I've been working hard," Smith said. "I took this offseason to really hone in on my skills and technique. I feel like just being a confident player, I'm ready.
"I think I've grown, but everybody knows I've got a lot of growing still to do as a young player. But I think I've taken some steps in the right direction."
That includes how Smith has conducted himself off the field, avoiding trouble after character questions surrounded him prior to the draft two years ago.
Smith lives a quiet existence in the Baltimore suburbs near team headquarters, playing video games and hanging out with his teammates and friends.
Red flags were raised about Smith heading into the draft. This included failed drug tests, a pair of alcohol-related violations and an arrest for third-degree assault. Those issues, which occurred early in his career at Colorado and didn't interrupt an All-
"As a person, I've been growing since college," said Smith, who finished his career with 183 career tackles, 18 pass deflections and three interceptions. "It's always a work in progress, but have you heard my name be called one time? I've been doing OK at that."
Against the Cowboys, Smith tied a career-high with seven tackles. That included one for a 7-yard loss where he decked wide receiver Dez Bryant.
Bryant did most of his damage against
And Smith anticipates the Texans, whose top wide receivers are
"Absolutely, I'm a second-year corner," Smith said. "They're definitely going to attack me, but I've got to strap it on and be ready. We definitely have our hands full with these receivers."
As a rookie, Smith had 18 tackles, two interceptions and eight pass deflections. And he had an acrobatic interception of
Now, the Ravens need Smith to play at an even higher level.
"I expect him to play really well," Ravens coach
Smith spent this offseason dropping weight, getting noticeably leaner from his rookie season.
His goal was to upgrade his speed, lateral mobility, backpedal and change of direction skills after missing four games as a rookie with a high-
"From one year to the next, it makes a whole lot of difference from the rookie year to the second year," fullback
Now, Smith wants to justify the investment the Ravens have made in him. Smith is signed to a four-year, $7.46 million rookie contract that includes a $3.92 million signing bonus.
"Once you get drafted, you want to prove what you've got," Smith said. "You want to prove to everybody that you belong. It [stinks] that my opportunity came at a time when another player was hurt, but, at the same time, you've got to step up and show what you've got."