Rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith was limited through much of the first two weeks of training camp by a groin injury.
Now that he’s back to full health, Smith is working his way up the depth chart, and he should see increased playing time in Friday’s preseason game against the Chiefs.
Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said yesterday that while the lockout and injury set Smith back a bit, he’s been pleased with the first-round pick’s performance of late and plans on getting him a heavy dose of reps against Kansas City.
“He’s making great progress,” Pagano said. “Jimmy is a really, really bright guy. I think as you guys talk to him in the media you’ll see that he really has a lot going on and he’s savvy. Nothing really bothers Jimmy; he’s a cool cucumber. He’s just learning everything.
“Again, he’s not where he should be because of the setback, but now that we’ve got him out here we’re kind of force-feeding him in there. And it’ll be interesting. We’re going to up his reps this game. I can’t wait to see him play.”
Lately, Smith and third-year man Cary Williams have been getting most of the first-team reps at cornerback, which gives the Ravens’ defense a different look.
Last season, Baltimore’s cornerback rotation featured Chris Carr (5-foot-10), Lardarius Webb (5-foot-10), Fabian Washington (5-foot-11) and Josh Wilson (5-foot-9).
With Smith (6-foot-2) and Williams (6-foot-1) on the field, Pagano has two big-bodied, physical toys to play with. For a defensive coordinator - especially one that values tall corners, the way Pagano does - that must be a nice feeling.
“When they prance out there, it’s very comforting,” Pagano said. “You’ve got two 6-1, 6-2 guys out there with long arms and guys that can run. It makes it really difficult. When you play tight coverage, it forces the quarterback to put it in tight windows and makes it really hard for the receivers to get off the line. They’ve got to earn everything, so those guys are doing a great job.”