Can J. Smith step up?

Can J. Smith step up?
April 6, 2013, 7:00 pm
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One of the biggest questions about the 2013 Ravens will be their defense. It's already clear there's going to be a much different look on that side of the ball, mainly because the team's got so many holes to fill after all of the free-agent moves.

But one position which will be interesting to watch is going to be cornerback. Jamison Hensley's AFC North blog on ESPN.com listed Jimmy Smith or Corey Graham as a starter at right cornerback. Graham was one of the most pleasant surprises on defense in 2012 because he really stepped up when the Ravens desperately needed help in the secondary, especially after the injury to Lardarius Webb -- and another one with Smith.

Still, the Ravens have expected big things from Smith since they made him a first round pick in 2011, and he's not quite gotten there yet. Injuries have sidelined him for parts of his first two seasons, and there's been times when he's really struggled. 

However, he came up very big in the final part of the Super Bowl, making some crucial plays that helped the Ravens hang on for the 34-31 victory over the 49ers. The question now is can Smith step up and be a full-time starter.

If so, that would give the Ravens more depth back there. They could make Graham a back-up, and he's already shown he can do that job. Can the big plays Smith made in the Super Bowl be the kind of confidence booster which might change his career? It's happened before. Can it happen here?

Smith's shown his good abilities at times. He's just yet to be completely consistent with it. If he can do that, it will greatly help the defense and the whole team.