Lardarius Webb is able to acknowledge that he's playing quality football lately.
Despite battling a toe injury late in the year, the third-year cornerback nabbed three interceptions in the Ravens' final seven regular season contests, and then continued his solid play by notching two more picks and registering four passes defensed in the Ravens' divisional round win over the Texans on Sunday.
The performance left Webb with a big smile across his face after the game Sunday night, as he reveled in both his own strong performance and the team's win.
But when asked if he's playing the best football of his career, Webb quickly turns serious.
"No. Lardarius Webb can be better," he says. "I'm telling you this: Lardarius Webb can be way better. I'd hate for ya'll to see that Webb, but I'm trying to get there, man. It's still a work in progress."
It's been an up-and-down few seasons for Webb, a 2009 third-round pick out of little-known Nicholls State. The 5-foot-10 corner put up a strong rookie season back in '09, and was able to work his way into the starting lineup by late November. He appeared poised to break out when he tore his ACL in a December game against the Bears, setting him back and forcing him to spend the offseason trying to regain his physical abilities rather than making improvements on his game.
Webb was able to battle back and play in 15 games during the 2010 season, but he wasn't really himself. He felt a step slow and didn't fully trust his movements because of the surgically repaired knee, and instead of regaining his starting role, Webb was used mostly as the Ravens' nickel back.
That all changed this season, however, as Webb came into camp feeling healthy and truly like himself. He got his starting job back and finished the regular season with a career-high five interceptions and 20 passes defensed, leading the team in both categories. He also returned one of his interceptions 73 yards for a touchdown and added a long punt return for a score, showing the quickness and athleticism that led the Ravens to believe that a college safety could quickly become a top NFL cornerback.
"I just think Lardarius just gets better all the time," head coach John Harbaugh said. "Like every player, there are ups and downs, and they get attacked and things like that. But, he's becoming a really solid, fundamentally sound corner to go with his great talent. And that's a great combination. To me, that's what makes for a potentially great football player. He came up with two huge plays and a lot of other really solid plays in the (Texans) game."
Webb might not feel like he's currently playing his best ball, but if there's ever a time for "the good Webb" to make an appearance, it's this Sunday against the Patriots and their high-powered passing attack.
New England had the NFL's second-best passing attack during the regular season, and the number of playmakers they have on the offensive side of the ball can make one's head spin.
Webb could find himself matched up against Wes Welker, the Patriots' shifty slot receiver who had the second-most receiving yards in the league this season. Regardless of who he's called on to cover, Webb's teammates have faith that the cornerback will continue to shine.
"He's an awesome player," said safety Ed Reed, Webb's idol growing up. "I've actually been very hard on him the last couple of weeks because I know how good he wants to be, and I know what he can accomplish. For him to come out and make the plays that he did (against Houston) was awesome."