Just after the Baltimore Ravens made a somewhat splashy trade to acquire former Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters from the Los Angeles Rams, they saw their injured starter at the position, Jimmy Smith, return to practice after missing much of the season through six weeks.
Baltimore didn’t acquire Peters not to play him, so it’s safe to say that he will be on the field. and Smith’s return isn’t necessarily imminent. He only did some individual drills on the practice field yesterday, according to Jamison Hensley, which is basically the first step in coming back from a sprained MCL, which he suffered in the opener.
But they will have to figure out what to do with Smith once he is back. Marlon Humphrey, who really looked like one of the very best young cornerbacks in the NFL last season, has been up and down this year. The defense has given up some big plays and yardage totals in 2019, something they’re not accustomed to.
Add Brandon Carr into the mix while you’re at it, and the Ravens will have to figure out how and where to play these four cornerbacks. The only role that I see as assured would be Peters’, because they made the trade to acquire him, presuming that they needed or could greatly use him. He’s a ballhawk, for one thing, with the most combined interceptions and passes defensed since he entered the league.
And given that he is scheduled to be a free agent in 2020, the logic is that they will want to get as much out of him now as possible, since they may not have the opportunity to work with him beyond this season. They gave up a fifth-round pick, plus second-year inside linebacker Kenny Young, for him, but they could get a nice compensatory pick back for him, and you know they play that game.
Smith is a very talented player who has had some great moments in his career, but injuries have been an all too frequent occurrence for him. Since entering the league in 2011, he has only played 16 games twice. He has missed at least four games in every other one of his seasons, including 2019, during which he has already been out five games, and likely it will be at least six.
In all, Smith has missed 35 games in his nine-year career, equating to over two full seasons. He’s likely to make it at least 36. Assuming that he returns after this next game, he’ll have missed 36 of 134 possible games in his career, which is just a bit over a full quarter of the games for which he was eligible to play, excluding the postseason.