Mosley leads effort to grab turnovers
After five interceptions in three games, linebacker says, ‘We’re doing our job’
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.