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Cary Williams has played his way to being a starter

Jimmy Smith (left) and Cary Williams (right) could prove to be a very successful cornerback tandem because of their size and physical style of play.

Remember when the Ravens defense was at its best with Chris McAlister and Duane Starks lining up at cornerback? Those two guys were incredibly physical cornerbacks, not afraid to deliver a blow to the opposing wide receiver as he came off the line of scrimmage.

With the 28th overall pick in the NFL draft the Ravens showed their interest in trying to get back to a tandem like that by drafting Jimmy Smith, a 6-foot-2, 211 pound defensive back out of Colorado.

The comparisons between Smith and McAlister are fairly legitimate. Nobody is proclaiming him as the next Chris McAlister, who may have been the best shutdown corner of his day, but he’s certainly a big, physical, and confident guy like he was.

After seeing three preseason games it would be a pretty big surprise if Smith didn’t start at one of the cornerback spots on September 11 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the other spot is wide open.

Domonique Foxworth is at risk of being cut with a $7.4 million cap figure. If the Ravens cut him they could save $3 million this year, more than enough to sign a veteran backup quarterback or somebody else the Ravens may be interested in. But even if he isn’t cut, he hasn’t shown enough in the three preseason games to warrant that other starting spot, neither have Lardarius Webb or Chris Carr.

A couple years ago many people, including myself, though Webb was well on his way to becoming one of the league’s best cornerbacks. He’s big and physical but a knee injury has proved to really set him back. It’s too early to completely give up on Webb but this preseason he’s been burnt more often than not and the few great plays he has made hasn’t made up for it.

Carr on the other hand really surprised a lot of people when he played well as a full-time starter last year for the Ravens after injuries decimated the secondary. He started every game and definitely warranted a new contract from the Ravens with a demand that he were to have a big role on the team this season. But, like Webb, he hasn’t played well in the preseason and with the league becoming more of a passing league each and every day, he may be better suited as a nickel or dime back.

So that leaves third-year Ravens Cary Williams. The former 2008 seventh round pick of the Tennessee Titans caught a lot of people’s eyes last preseason by a four game suspension to start the year killed his chance to be able to prove himself when guys were out with injuries.

But he’s once again he’s gotten a lot of attention this preseason. Williams may be able to team up with Smith to make for a very big, physical tandem. At 6-foot-1, 185 pounds he has the build to be successful at the position and he has proven that he is a very physical player.

Williams has been working with the team’s first-team defense this preseason and he’s made the most of his opportunity. Like McAlister and Starks did, Williams jams receivers at the line of scrimmage. The NFL allowed the cornerback to make as much contact with a receiver inside five yards as they want to and Williams doesn’t hesitate to get a couple hits in. Because he is big he has the ability to knock a receiver off his route, which give the pass rush a second or two more to get to the quarterback before he can make the throw to a guy in proper position.

Right now the job should go to Williams unless Carr, Webb, or Foxworth really show enough to unseat him from the starting job. Now that is not saying those three will never see the field again — because teams throw so often nickel and dime backs are used more than ever – but so far Williams has outplayed them in the preseason and has earned himself the other starting job.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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