The Baltimore Ravens brought in a number of veterans in their secondary over the past three years, starting with Eric Weddle in 2016, to bolster the group. Tony Jefferson and Brandon Carr followed a year later. Carr’s defining quality had been the consistent reliability of his availability. He had started every game since he was drafted.
He started 160 consecutive games heading into this season, his 11th, which is the longest active streak among defensive players and the second-longest overall behind Philip Rivers. But that streak was threatened to come to an end this year.
With the development and maturation of 2017 first-round pick Marlon Humphrey and the return of Tavon Young in the slot after missing 2017 with a torn ACL, only a four-game suspension for top cornerback Jimmy Smith seemed to keep his streak going.
Now that Smith is back, however, the Ravens aren’t talking about his streak ending any time soon. Whether or not the change of heart has come due to his strong play in Smith’s absence, everybody is behind him continuing to start, with the four cornerbacks contributing in some form or fashion.
“I am not going to be the answer to that trivia question: Who stopped his streak?”, the team’s defensive coordinator told reporters yesterday. “There will always be a way that he’s going to run out there”.
Weddle was also asked about Carr, responding by saying, “I know Brandon is going to be out there at the start of games”. He, too, talked about not wanting to be the people responsible for ending Carr’s streak.
“We’re not going to be the team or the defensive coordinator that isn’t going to have Brandon out there for the amazing career and streak he has”, Weddle, another long-time veteran, said. “He’s earned it. He’s playing at a high level. That’s not even a topic for us”.
Carr had two passes defensed on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, both of them defending JuJu Smith-Schuster. The first of the two occurred in the end zone on a third-down pass. He punched the ball out as the wide receiver was trying to double-catch it, preventing a touchdown. The second occurred a drive or two later on a long pass down the left sideline.
On the season, he already has one interception and six passes defensed over the course of the first four games. He now has 20 interceptions in his career—four last season, tied for a career-high—with 128 passes defensed. However, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he didn’t see a lot of time against Antonio Brown.