Ravens coming through in the clutch
The growth of Jimmy Smith into an excellent cornerback has been an important positive during the Ravens’ season. Smith has been modest, calling himself “a work in progress” following Sunday’s game. However, teammates have been effusive in their praise, happy to see Smith realize the potential they saw when he was a first-round draft pick in 2011.
“He’s so much more sure of what he’s doing,” said quarterback Joe Flacco. “He’s not afraid to be wrong. He’s not second-guessing himself (thinking), 'Should I have done this' or 'Should I have done that?’ He’s just going out there and playing. I think because of that, his ball skills have improved so much. He’s reacting to those things so much better because he’s not thinking in his head, ‘What happens if I don’t make this play?’ He has confidence, he’s very sure of himself, and a lot of the basic things that his talent allows him to do – he’s freed up, and those things are just starting to come out.”
Already, Smith has enjoyed strong games against some of the NFL’s top receivers. He helped limit Brandon Marshall of the Bears to four catches for 42 yards. The Ravens also held Josh Gordon of the Browns in check (three catches, 44 yards), thanks in part to Smith’s coverage. Quarterbacks that used to target Smith are now throwing in another direction.
Smith will spend part of Monday night matched against Calvin Johnson of the Lions – the ultimate test for any cornerback. Covering Johnson is a measuring stick for any cornerback. But so far this season, Smith has measured up.