A year ago, Chykie Brown was a non-factor after being selected in the fifth round of the 2011 draft. He appeared in seven games, starting none.
This season, Brown has begun rounding into a player the Ravens can rely on. The second-year cornerback out of Texas has steadily improved since being thrust into a more significant role because of injuries to Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith.
At first, Brown was regularly beaten by opposing receivers. But he has made more and more strong plays as the year has progressed, and Sunday against the Giants, he played a big role in the defense permitting just 186 yards.
Brown matched a career-high with four tackles while showing off his marked improvement in coverage, finishing with four passes defended. He had just one in his first 14 games this season.
"Chykie played really well. Chykie continues to get better every single week," coach John Harbaugh said. "He's really starting to gain some confidence. There were things that - him and I kind of met in the weight room there - and there were a couple things that didn't look right on tape that we talked about. But he's getting to the point now on as a player where he can explain or articulate why he's doing things, what he saw, or what he thought the defense called for, and they make sense. You can understand what he's saying. It may not be right, but he's starting to really think the game out there. That's good to see in a young corner."
Overall this season, Brown has played in all 15 games (one start), recording 22 tackles and five passes defended.
He wasn't the only young player to have a strong performance against the Giants, as rookie Bernard Pierce ran for 123 yards and Omar Brown had a sack.
Harbaugh said seeing the Ravens' young players develop to the point they can contribute has been big.
"That's something that's hard to predict, but we feel like the program is built that way right from the beginning, in terms of evaluating," Harbaugh said. "Our scouting department and our coaches working together, and then developing these guys as we just talked about (is important). And then you kind of keep your fingers crossed when they get their opportunity, and then when you see them do well, it's rewarding for all of us. So that's really the life-blood of an NFL football program. You have to keep infusing it with young talent, and our young talent looks like it's going to be pretty darn good."