Cornerback Jimmy Smith was practically destined to be the next great Raven defender when he was selected with the team's first pick just five years ago. With great intangibles, physicality, decision-making, and a 4.4 40-yard dash, the stars were all aligned for a budding superstar. It may have taken him a few seasons, but Smith finally burst out onto the scene last season, and proved why the Ravens selected him with their first pick in 2011. Before going down in Week 8, Smith was a top 10 cornerback, and some would even say he was bordering on earning the "shutdown" distinction. In the first six weeks of the season, he had only allowed 18 catches and 135 yards. None of those catches resulted in touchdowns either. This play was good enough to give him the rank of seventh-best corner in the league, and fourth-best in pass coverage, according to Pro Football Focus. But after suffering a season-ending Lisfranc injury, he just hasn't been the same.
This season has been the polar opposite of last for Smith, who has gone from a shutdown corner to a liability in the secondary. Smith has been ripped apart by opposing receivers, most notably in Week 3, when A.J. Green ripped him apart for 10 receptions, 225 yards, and 2 touchdowns. To give you an idea of just how bad he has been this season, Shareece Wright has been performing better than him, according to the metrics of PFF. In fact, Pro Football Focus, the same agency that coveted Smith so highly last year, has him as their 78th-ranked cornerback this season.
So why has Smith fallen so far in just the matter of months?
My explanation is that he just hasn't recovered properly from his foot injury. He just hasn't looked the same, and has lacked the tenacity and mobility to play using his best skill set, covering in press.
For more information on just how this sort of injury can damper how an athlete performs, I went to our own in-house doctor, Dr. Bobby Esbrandt.
- Jimmy Smith suffered a Lisfranc injury, specifically, a Lisfranc foot sprain. Can you explain what this injury is in layman's terms?
- For the typical person, what would the timetable be for a recovery from this injury? What activities can they not partake in with this injury?
- Are there any prominent examples of athletes returning from this injury in the same form as before? Or do athletes with Lisfranc injuries often retrogress?
- After reading up on the Lisfranc injury in the NFL, it seems like there has been a rise in the occurence of this specific injury recently. Some are attributing this to new turf surfaces and modern cleats. Do you believe that there is any basis to these claims?