Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb readily admits that he expects teams to pick on him -- initially, at least -- knowing that Jimmy Smith is manning the other side and Webb is coming off a season slowed by injuries.
But Webb has a message for those teams: Bring it on.
"Come on, I’m ready," Webb said after a training camp workout last week. "I’ll be ready. I’ll definitely be ready this year for anything that they have to come at me.”
Last season, Webb missed almost all of camp and virtually all of the first four games of the season with a back injury. Once he returned, it took him several weeks to regain his form. He finished the season with 46 tackles and one interception but was rated among the bottom third of all NFL corners by Pro Football Focus.
"They’re going to come to me first," said Webb, who turns 30 in October. "Then when they get through trying me, then they might try (Smith). They’re going to come to me first to make sure I’m good.”
Webb started camp slowly, and that included failing the conditioning test on his first try, but he has picked up his play over the past week.
"He’s moving around well," coach John Harbaugh said last week. "He’s competing -- quickness, ball skills, all the things that make ‘Webby’ the corner he is. He looks good out here."
If Webb and Smith can stay healthy -- and that's a big if, given that each has missed extensive time over the past three years -- the Ravens secondary should be much improved over last year, when injuries and ineffectiveness at the cornerback position proved to be one of the team's fatal flaws.
The Ravens added an insurance policy in veteran cornerback Kyle Arrington and have also gotten strong play in camp from Rashaan Melvin and Quinton Pointer, who might have found a home in Baltimore after spending time with three practice squads (Rams, Bucs, Ravens) over the past three years.
Webb, the fifth-longest tenured Raven, the second-longest on defense (behind Terrell Suggs), said he likes the improvements the Ravens made in the secondary this offseason. But for him, everything starts with his health.
"It’s all about health," he said. "If I’m healthy, then I can be me and our defense can do what we do.”
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