Jimmy Smith needs to have a short memory this morning. If he thinks too much about what happened Thursday night during the Ravens’ 27-23 victory, it will not help his confidence. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones targeted Smith, and had success at his expense. Smith gave up three completions while defending Jones during the first half, including an eight-yard touchdown pass.
Through two preseason games, Smith has not looked anything like a shutdown corner. He entered training camp hoping to win a starting job. Instead, Corey Graham has been the best corner during games, and Lardarius Webb has looked terrific in practice, well on his way to a full recovery from knee surgery.
Whenever the Ravens feel comfortable putting Webb back into game action, there is no way Smith can expect to start over Webb. That means Smith looks destined to be a nickel corner again this season, which has to be a disappointment for him.
Smith reported in great shape. He has the size and range necessary to be a solid corner. That’s what the Ravens saw when they made Smith a first-round pick in 2011.
However, Smith’s talent has not translated into consistent performance, and he must guard against falling into a funk. The Ravens need him. If he’s the third corner, he’ll still see plenty of time in nickel packages. He’ll be matched against top receivers in key situations, like he was matched against Michael Crabtree during the waning moments of the Super Bowl. If another corner suffers an injury, Smith could even still become a starter.
How Smith responds to this latest setback will be important. All corners make mistakes. But if Smith wants a bigger role, he needs to start making more plays.