Mosley leads ef­fort to grab turnovers

Af­ter five in­ter­cep­tions in three games, line­backer says, ‘We’re do­ing our job’

Baltimore Sun - - RAVENS & NFL - By Jeff Zre­biec and Ed­ward Lee jeff.zre­biec@balt­sun.com ed­ward.lee@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/jef­fzre­biec­sun twit­ter.com/ed­wardleesun

Ravens mid­dle line­backer C.J. Mosley, who­hadt­woin­t­er­cep­tions as a rookie and none last year, has two through three games this sea­son. He­jokedafter Sun­day’s19-17 vic­tory over the Jack­sonville Jaguars that the pro­tec­tive wrap he’s wear­ing on his sur­gi­cally re­paired wrist, lighter than the one he wore last sea­son, has al­lowed him to hold on to balls thrown in his di­rec­tion.

Mosley, though, un­der­stands that an ex­pla­na­tion of the team’s five in­ter­cep­tions through three games is a lit­tle more com­pli­cated than that. Af­ter the Ravens got a fran­chise-low six in­ter­cep­tions last sea­son, coach John Har­baugh and new sec­ondary coach Les­lie Fra­zier stressed cre­at­ing turnovers in just about ev­ery meet­ing.

The team worked on it in train­ing camp, hav­ing the de­fen­sive backs catch ten­nis balls to im­prove ball skills and work­ing on var­i­ous tip drills. As Mosley ex­plained, it goes beyond even that.

“Re­ally, what it is, we’re do­ing our job,” Mosley said. “We’re get­ting in the right po­si­tion and do­ing the right drops, and ev­ery­body is mak­ing the right read.”

Mosley, who made a nifty one­handed in­ter­cep­tion late in the first quar­ter against the Jaguars af­ter tak­ing an ex­tremely deep drop, used fel­low line­backer Zachary Orr’s game-se­cur­ing in­ter­cep­tion as an ex­am­ple of the team’s im­proved ball-hawk­ing mind­set. Orr dropped back deep and picked off a pass that safety Lar­dar­ius Webb de­flected.

“Like Zach said, when you run to the ball, those kinds of plays hap­pen,” Mosley said.

The Ravens, who have all five of those in­ter­cep­tions in the past two games, are tied for sec­ond in the league. They trail the Kansas City Chiefs, who have a league-lead­ing eight in­ter­cep­tions, in­clud­ing six of New York Jets quar­ter­back Ryan Fitzpa­trick in a blowout win Sun­day.

“Hav­ingEricWed­dle­andLar­dar­ius Webb back there at safety, back there be­ing the quar­ter­backs, it’s to­tally dif­fer­ent,” re­serve de­fen­sive back An­thony Levine Sr. said. “Them boys back there, they are call­ing things out for us. Zach is mak­ing plays, C.J. is mak­ing plays. They make things so much eas­ier.” No harm, no foul: Har­baugh said it was not nec­es­sary for him to talk with wide re­ceiver Steve Smith Sr. about his postgame con­fronta­tion with Jaguars rookie cor­ner­back Jalen Ram­sey.

In fact, Har­baugh said, he found him­self be­tween the play­ers as they ex­changed ver­bal barbs.

“I got caught in the mid­dle of that,” Har­baugh said Mon­day. “It was kind of fun — it was fun. I thought Steve Smith had a heck of a game. If that’s how he re­sponds to what­ever chal­lenge [is] put be­fore him out there, I’m for it.”

Smith, 37, had his best out­ing of the sea­son, lead­ing the team in catches (eight) and yards (87). The 21-year-old Ram­sey, the fifth over­all pick of the 2016 NFL draft, fin­ished with five tack­les and sug­gested af­ter­ward that he got the bet­ter of their matchup.

“Any­time I lined up on him. Hmm. You’re done,” said Ram­sey, who also called Smith “an old man.” “Y’all go watch that. Y’all go watch that. Y’all tell me who got in [whose] head.”

Smith fired back at Ram­sey via Twit­ter, writ­ing, “I gave U ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to speak face to face. But you found your voice safely be­hind closed doors. Young man I don’t need ur re­spect!” Lewis in con­cus­sion pro­to­col: Har­baugh said start­ing left guard Alex Lewis is deal­ing with a con­cus­sion suf­fered in the fourth quar­ter Sun­day.

The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Lewis, the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s third of five picks in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, has made all three starts at left guard and played 57 of­fen­sive snaps Sun­day. He suf­fered the con­cus­sion some­time dur­ing the fi­nal quar­ter and was re­placed by 6-4, 310-pound Ryan Jensen for the fi­nal 10 snaps.

“I thought he played well,” Har­baugh said of Jensen. “Ryan goes out there, and he al­ways gives you a spark. He played re­ally well. He was phys­i­cal and played well. That’s one thing, one of the things we feel re­ally good about. We’ve got some depth in our in­te­rior of­fen­sive line.” Young makes an­other play: Af­ter Tavon Young’s 2-point re­turn of a blocked ex­tra-point at­tempt in the Week 2 vic­tory over the Cleve­land Browns, Har­baugh warned the rookie cor­ner­back not to get caught up in his pos­i­tive press clip­pings.

Young ap­par­ently got the mes­sage. The for­mer Tem­ple stand­out in­ter­cepted a pass by Blake Bor­tles that had de­flected off de­fen­sive tackle Timmy Jerni­gan in Sun­day’s win and en­hanced his rep­u­ta­tion for seem­ing to be in the right place at the right time.

“It wa­sex­cit­ing,” Young­said­ofhis first ca­reer in­ter­cep­tion. “I give credit to the D-line­man, who­ever tipped the ball. I thank him for that and I just fin­ished the play.” End zone: Af­ter be­ing lim­ited to spe­cial teams in the first two games, rookie in­side line­backer Ka­malei Cor­rea made his de­fen­sive de­but Sun­day and al­most in­ter­cepted an­other pass by Bor­tles in the first quar­ter. “He was in po­si­tion,” Har­baugh said. “He played more plays. He played well. It was good to see him out there, kind of get his first chance as a de­fen­sive player. Played well last week on spe­cial teams and played well again this week on spe­cial teams. So I think he’s start­ing to feel his oats a lit­tle bit and hope­fully be the player we know he’s go­ing to be sooner rather than later.” … Har­baugh shared an in­ter­est­ing anec­dote about him­self and his brother, Michi­gan coach Jim Har­baugh, when asked if the team’s abil­ity to win nar­row games in­spires con­fi­dence among the play­ers and coaches. “When we go to the mall, we don’t start at the park­ing spa­ces in the back row,” the el­der Har­baugh said. “We drive right to the front row. There’s go­ing to be some­one pulling out. Yeah, the place is packed and it might say ‘No park­ing avail­able,’ but some­one’s go­ing to leave just as we­comein. It’s just al­ways worked out that way for us.” C.J. Mosley, left, An­thony Levine Sr., Chris Carter and Zachary Orr cel­e­brate Orr’s game-clinch­ing in­ter­cep­tion Sun­day. “Like Zach said, when you run to the ball, those kinds of plays hap­pen,” Mosley said Mon­day.

KEN­NETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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