Harbaugh praises se­condary fol­low­ing Ravens vic­tory

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ

jschatz@ce­cil­whig.com

— Twice dur­ing his weekly press con­fer­ence at the Un­der Ar­mour Per­for­mance Cen­ter on Mon­day, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh praised the play of his se­condary in Sun­day’s 19-14 win over the Cincin­nati Ben­gals.

Com­pet­ing with­out the ser­vices of its top cor­ner­back, Jimmy Smith, who missed a sec­ond­straight game on Sun­day with a back in­jury, the Ravens se­condary held Ben­gals quar­ter­back Andy Dal­ton, who was sacked three times, to 283 pass­ing yards, one touch­down and a 54.17 com­ple­tion per­cent­age—the sig­nal-caller’s low­est pass-to-catch ra­tio of the sea­son.

Baltimore’s ef­fort also rep­re­sented a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment from the week be­fore against the Dal­las Cow­boys, when rookie quar­ter­back Dak Prescott threw for over 300 yards and three scores.

“I thought our de­fen­sive backs did a much bet­ter job in manto-man cov­er­age than the week be­fore. Yes­ter­day, they re­ally stepped it up and had some good reps out there so that was good to see,” Harbaugh said. “They gave our pass rush some time.”

Rookie Tevon Young and Sha­reece Wright both started at cor­ner­back on Sun­day, while Jer­raud Pow­ers also en­tered the game at cor­ner­back.

OWINGS MILLS

Smith, who was listed as doubt­ful on Fri­day, was a game-time de­ci­sion but ul­ti­mately did not play. The for­mer first-round se­lec­tion suf­fered the back in­jury in Week 10 against the Cleve­land Browns.

“Guys have had to step up, that’s the thing,” Harbaugh said. “They did a much bet­ter job at ad­just­ing this week than the week be­fore. Guys played bet­ter, we cov­ered tighter, we were more ag­gres­sive. I just like the men­tal­ity way bet­ter back there this week than last week. The tech­nique was much bet­ter, they played with more con­fi­dence. That’s how they should play.

“We have good play­ers, guys who can cover back there, and you’d like to see them play to their ca­pa­bil­i­ties, which they did a much bet­ter job of do­ing yes­ter­day.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, safeties Lar­dar­ius Webb and Matt Elam shared play­ing time at the nickel cor­ner po­si­tion.

“Those are dif­fer­ent pack­ages that we had in,” Harbaugh said of the nick­el­back, who tra­di­tion­ally en­ters the game dur­ing ob­vi­ous pass­ing downs to cover an ex­tra re­ceiver. “Some of the pack­ages are more pass­ing, some of them are more run­ning and have to do with pres­sure. Some of them are more base calls [and] try­ing to have guys out there for what they do best [and] try­ing to get our match ups as best we can, and that’s re­ally what that was. Try­ing to put guys in po­si­tion to do what they do best.”

As for the sta­tus of team’s top cor­ner, Harbaugh hopes Smith will be avail­able this Sun­day against the Miami Dol­phins, win­ners of six straight.

“I was hope­ful he would get back. He ran again on Satur­day to try and see how well he ran on the ground and he was bet­ter, but he wasn’t good enough to play,” Harbaugh said of Smith. “He’s close. He’s been able to run for about a week, so we’ll see.”

Fol­low Jor­dan Schatz on Twit­ter: @Jor­dan_Whig

KARL MER­TON FERRON/BALTIMORE SUN/TNS

Baltimore Ravens cor­ner­back Sha­reece Wright breaks up a pass in­tended for Cincin­nati Ben­gals wide re­ceiver James Wright (86) dur­ing the third quar­ter on Sun­day at M&T Bank Sta­dium in Baltimore.

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