The Pittsburgh Steelers began their transition in the secondary on Sunday when they inserted rookie first-round cornerback Artie Burns. But they weren’t the only team in the AFC North undergoing a transition in the secondary and putting a rookie cornerback into the starting lineup. The Baltimore Ravens, too, now seem to be going with fourth-round rookie Tavon Young to start opposite Jimmy Smith.
It wasn’t how the series started, and it wasn’t their plan, but that is how things have developed. Shareece Wright was supposed to be the starter. He was brought in last year and had some success for a floundering Baltimore defense that saw potential in him.
But over the course of the first half of the season, when he has been healthy, he hasn’t been entirely effective. He was particularly a liability in the Raiders game, during which he gave up two touchdowns, and it was then that Baltimore began debating on having him take a seat.
He has played in only five games, however, due to injury, starting four, and he missed the Steelers game. As a result, Young was the starter, which was technically his third start of the season, and with that start, he ended up surpassing Wright in terms of snap count for the season, now logging 317 snaps to Wright’s 273. Jimmy Smith, obviously, leads the snap count at the cornerback position with 458 snaps.
And it’s not as though the Ravens really have very many options. One of those options, veteran Will Davis, was recently placed on injured reserve. They did claim Chris Lewis-Harris off waivers last week from the Bengals, who had playing experience. Jerraud Powers seems to be reserved for the slot within Baltimore’s defense, which is where he is best.
Following the Ravens’ victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday, in fact, he was even awarded the game ball. on the season, he has recorded 25 tackles with two passes defensed and two interceptions. He recorded five tackles against the Steelers. He also recovered a fumble, and returned an extra-point attempt for a two-point score.
Apparently, though, one of the things that has impressed his teammates most has been his ability to bounce back and respond to failures. He helped give up a game-winning touchdown late in the game against the Giants when he ran into the safety. But he took accountability for his role on that play and has responded since.
Despite being a 5’9”, 177-pound cornerback, a product of Temple, and a mid-round draft pick, Young had his supporters who considered him a quality draft pick, and so far, he has been rewarding the Ravens’ scouting report on him.
Young’s success has allowed the Ravens, in addition, to leave Lardarius Webb, who committed to a transition from the cornerback position, to safety, where he has played well, and that has been an important element in Baltimore’s secondary this season.