It’s no secret just how detrimental cornerback Jimmy Smith‘s injuries have been to the Ravens defense.
He is one of the very few players that opposing quarterbacks must keep a keen eye on every passing down. Time and time again the veteran cornerback has shown glimpses of being that much-needed shutdown corner, only to be derailed by injury.
On Wednesday, Smith answered several questions about the upcoming season including what’s been the biggest knock against the lanky cornerback, his health.
“This is my first offseason where I do not have an injury, and I can actually work out with the team and participate in OTAs,” said Smith, who’s played a full 16-game season just twice entering his 7th season as a Raven. “I am really excited. I think this is probably going to be one of my best years.”
Hampered by nagging injuries throughout much of his career, Smith understands the critics who describe him as “injury prone” and to a degree, they are correct.
“I can’t be mad,” bellowed Smith. “I have missed games; I have missed a lot of games.
“It hurts to sit on the sideline. It hurts to hear it, but it is the truth. Motivation – that is not my motivation. My motivation is to dominate and to be one of the best players in the league. I am tired of just being hurt. I am tired of not being able to compete and do my job.”
We would all agree that the loss of Smith season after season has played a key role in the secondary’s demise. Hindsight is always 20/20 but one has to wonder if the Ravens would have had to watch lead after lead disappear late in games as they have over the past several seasons, had Smith been on the field more often.
This offseason, the Ravens brass added some players who they think will play pivotal roles in the secondary, players Smith welcomes heading into 2017.
“I got to meet Brandon [Carr] these last few days, and I met T.J. [Tony Jefferson] a week ago [when] we were training with [director of performance] Steve [Saunders],” said Smith about the latest Ravens additions. “I really like the additions. I have seen their highlights.
“I have seen them from afar playing football, so I like what they did. I like the schemes we are putting together with them.”
Smith knows his healthy return, along with the additions of Jefferson and Carr will go a long way, but stopped short of saying he is the missing cog in the secondary.
“I would not necessarily say I am the ‘key.’ But, I definitely am a part of this defense that we need, and bringing in corners like Brandon and a safety like Tony to help bolster our secondary, I think is the key, really, to propelling us to the playoffs.”
Smith certainly isn’t wrong with his depiction of the new secondary the team plans to trot out on gamedays.
On paper, the Ravens secondary has vastly improved this offseason. Of course, the proof will be in the pudding once we actually see them all on the field together this summer. Hopefully we see a full 16 games (and more) of Smith on the field with his new teammates.
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