By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun
7:21 PM PDT, August 19, 2011
Ravens fans apparently weren't the only ones anticipating rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith's debut at M&T Bank Stadium.
The 27th overall pick of the draft in April, Smith got an NFL welcome from the Kansas City Chiefs, who targeted the Ravens' top pick early and often Friday night.
The combination of Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe tested Smith three times on Kansas City's opening series of the preseason contest and one more time on the offense's ensuing possession.
Bowe caught two of those passes for 40 yards. Cassel's first throw to Bowe on third down-and-5 from the Chiefs' 25-yard line appeared to be tipped by Smith, but Bowe pulled in the ball with his left hand for a 14-yard completion.
After a pair of incompletions — including a break-up by Smith — there was nothing Smith could do on the fourth pass from Cassel, who perfectly floated the ball into Bowe's hands for a 26-yard gain.
On Wednesday, coach John Harbaugh said he thought Smith was making progress despite missing several days with a groin injury.
"He's had a chance to get out there and apply some of the things he's learned about our defense to playing, and he's done really well," Harbaugh said. "He's very smart [and] he works really hard. He's learning to be a technician, and the sky is the limit."
Smith joined Cary Williams as the starting cornerbacks as Chris Carr was scratched after tweaking his left hamstring on Sunday, and Domonique Foxworth was relegated to the second defense after being limited in practice by his surgically-repaired right knee.
Déjà vu for McPhee
For the second time in as many preseason games, rookie defensive end Pernell McPhee sacked and stripped a quarterback — only to have it overturned.
On the Chiefs' second-to-last series of the first half, McPhee blew past offensive lineman Chris Harr, sacked quarterback Tyler Palko, and stripped him of the ball at Kansas City's 5-yard line. Defensive tackle Arthur Jones recovered the loose ball and returned it to the 2.
But the Chiefs challenged the ruling, and a video review ruled that Palko's left arm was moving forward when McPhee made contact. The ball was returned to the offense.
“Just got to stay humble and get after the ball,” McPhee said. “I’ve just got to stay focused because not everything goes your way.”
This is becoming a familiar occurrence for McPhee, whose sack and strip of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Mike Kafka was also overturned.
Fans who stuck around until the fourth quarter got a glimpse of what rookie quarterback Tyrod Taylor can do with his feet.
On second down-and-goal from Kansas City's 5, Taylor ran a play-action bootleg right. Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston appeared to sniff out the play, but Taylor froze Houston with a shoulder shake and scampered to his right until he dove over the right pylon for the touchdown with 1:59 left.
"Coach gave me an opportunity to go out there and make a play," said Taylor, who finished 5-of-11 for 88 yards and a 73.3 passer rating. "He told me that if the corner followed the receiver on a zoom motion, try to give it a chance. I felt that I could take that one-on-one battle and make a play."
When asked if he thought Houston was going to sack him, Taylor said with a grin, "In a one-on-one situation, I never doubt myself. That's just something I've never done."
Pass protection holds up
After Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was sacked once and pressured several more times in limited time against the Eagles, pass protection was much improved against Kansas City.
Flacco was not sacked, and although he was pressured a few times, he generally had time to read coverages and find his receivers behind a retooled offensive line with Oniel Cousins at right guard and rookie Jah Reid at right tackle.
On Wednesday, Harbaugh had expressed his desire to see Flacco not get sacked.
"I don't think we're going to look like we're at mid-season form," Harbaugh had said. "But I'd like to see us be solid in pass protection and get the run game going a little bit."
Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali, who led the AFC and ranked second in the NFL in sacks with 14½ last yeaer, and recorded two sacks in the Ravens' 38-24 AFC playoff win in January, was kept at bay by left tackle Michael Oher.
Lewis, Yanda, Carr don't play
Three starters — inside linebacker Ray Lewis, right guard Marshal Yanda and Carr — did not play Friday night.
Lewis is dealing with his aunt's illness and Yanda has not participated since the team's preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles last Thursday.
Dannell Ellerbe started in place of Lewis and split a sack of Cassel with cornerback Lardarius Webb late in the first quarter. Cousins moved from right tackle to right guard, and Reid, the team's third-round pick, started at right tackle.
Other Ravens who did not play included running back Matt Lawrence, wide receiver James Hardy (hamstring) and offensive tackle Brady Bond (left calf/shin).
In the competition at tight end, Ed Dickson got the start, but he caught just one pass for four yards. Dennis Pitta also caught one pass for four yards. Both players were outgained by Kris Wilson, who finished with one reception for seven yards. … Kansas City's first field goal of the game was a gift from Webb, who botched a punt return. He was stripped by linebacker Justin Houston, and running back Jackie Battle recovered it at the Ravens' 15. … Despite assurances from Harbaugh and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg that kicker Billy Cundiff would kick off so that the Chiefs would have to return the ball, all three of Cundiff's kickoffs in the first half resulted in touchbacks. … Kansas City's lone touchdown of the first half was posted by wide receiver Terrance Copper, who played in two games for the Ravens in 2008. … Flacco, free safety Ed Reed and linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo represented the Ravens for the pre-game coin toss. … The Chiefs were represented by four players, including three former Ravens in nose tackle Kelly Gregg, fullback Le'Ron McClain and Copper. Kansas City quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn, who held the same position with the Ravens last season, also returned.
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