The Baltimore Ravens have really had some bad luck at several different positions in recent years. Their offensive line was ravaged by injuries in 2017. Their cornerbacks also took a hit. The tight ends were beaten into submission by the injury bug the year before that. They even lost a starting inside linebacker to a presumably career-ending injury.
It’s looking like they’re on the mend, though, and one of those bright young defensive backs is starting to look like his ‘old’ self. Third-year cornerback Tavon Young, according to Head Coach John Harbaugh, has for the past several practices looked to be playing virtually unrestrained after he tore his ACL in the offseason a year ago.
A 2016 fourth-round draft pick, Young quickly carved out a role for himself in the slot that year, but even took over the starting job by the end of the season. He was due to open the 2017 season in the slot if not for the knee injury, but now he will likely have to fight to get that job back.
That is assuming that their oft-injured former first-round pick, Jimmy Smith, is recovered in time from his bothersome Achilles injury. Should he be healthy, he figures to start on the outside alongside last year’s second-round pick, Marlon Humphrey, according to Mike Preston.
That would mean Young will be left to battle veteran Brandon Carr, whom the team signed in free agency a year ago to start on the outside. He did, but he had his struggles. Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in particular made him look bad, but he’s capable of doing that to anybody.
“I feel great. I spent a lot of time in the training room in the offseason…just working on my knee running, getting it strong”, Young said. “Now, this is my first time playing football in almost a year, and I feel good, and I feel like I’m back to myself”.
The 5’9” cornerback also said that he likes playing in the slot. “I feel like you can do a little bit of everything. You can get sacks, strips, fumbles — all of that — interceptions and tackles for loss. I feel like nickel — that’s where the action is — and I like that”. Pittsburgh seems to have found that player in Mike Hilton last year.
Still, Young will be asked to play against tight ends at time in the slot, and he will get plenty of practice thanks to the Ravens’ draft this year. They used first- and third-round selections on Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews, two of the top players at that position in the class.
Young also exhibits a stronger, more toned physique this year. He came into the league weighing just 177 pounds, but I’m assuming he’s put on some pounds since then. He said that he spent a lot of time in the weight room while recovering from his knee injury.