Jimmy Smith will be heading into his first off-season as a Baltimore Raven hoping to earn a starting cornerback’s spot when he returns this summer for training camp and the preseason.
“I’m going to have a great offseason so I can get that corner spot,” Smith said, via BaltimoreRavens.com.
Smith, 23, was primarily used as the third cornerback this season, behind starters Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams. The Ravens’ 2011 first-round draft selection came in mainly on passing situations in the Ravens nickel package.
He showed flashes of his potential throughout the course of the season, but both Webb and Williams are expected to return in 2012, making it what is sure to be a heated competition for the top two spots.
Smith’s rookie campaign hit a bump in the road because of an ankle injury he suffered on the opening kickoff in Baltimore’s first game. He missed the team’s first five games in essence, and was slowly worked back into the mix once he got healthy.
Smith finished the regular season with 18 tackles and two interceptions. In the postseason, he added a fumble recovery and an interception.
His interception off New England’s Tom Brady in the AFC Championship Game demonstrated the kind of big plays he’s capable of making, as he picked the ball just inches off the turf after it was deflected by safety Bernard Pollard. After making the spectacular play, he instinctively got up and returned the interception 39 yards.