Cornerback Lardarius Webb needed to have an amazing preseason and continue that into the regular season this year if he planned on being in the Ravens' future plans. Sadly for everyone involved, Webb has continued to miss time due to ailments. He now firmly sits on the starting bubble where he might not be the number two corner come the first regular season game.
The Ravens have made it no question that they expect big things from Webb this season. After pushing Webb to restructure his contract to a more cap friendly number, the Ravens have set it up where they will gain $3.5 million if they waive him next season, only tying him to the 2015 season as a way of redemption.
Throughout his career, Webb has been the on the bad side of the injury bug. Out of a possible 96 games to play in, Webb has only seen action in 80 of them and far fewer if you want to count him being close to 100%. Now in his seventh season, Webb is starting to lose some of the physical aspects of his game that allowed him to shadow the opponent's top receiver. As we've seen with other players, once that speed begins to cut out on you, your football career can quickly come to an end. For Webb, an injury filled preseason won't help him on that front.
Dean Pees is starting to get concerned about Webb's absences as well and once you have the coach's negative eye, it is never a positive thing.
I know he’s trying to do what – it is not his fault – he’s trying to do what he can to rehab and get ready to go, but, it is certainly a concern. I’d be fooling you to tell you I didn’t think it was a concern. I want guys out there practicing so we can see where they are and know where they are. And the condition thing – all those kind of things – yes, it’s a concern. I hope we still can get him out here in the next week or so, but at this point, I wished he was out there. Absolutely.
Don't forget that Lardarius Webb didn't start this preseason out on the best of terms, failing his conditioning test and having to miss the first day of practice because of it. While he looked good during OTAs, missing any time because of a conditioning test is not a good thing if you are a veteran trying to stave off competition for your job. And make no mistake, Webb does not have his cornerback spot locked up at all.
The main heir for Webb's throne is young corner Rashaan Melvin. Melvin stepped up big time for the Ravens during the 2014 season that we'll call 'the falling of the secondary'. Melvin showed some positives in his game to go with his larger 6-foot-2 193-pound frame. Enough to where defensive coordinator Dean Pees has been substituting Melvin in during Webb's absence.
He [Rashaan Melvin] keeps improving. I thought he started slow. I was looking for him at the end of the season. This guy did a lot for us late in the year. I really give him a lot of credit coming over from Tampa Bay and coming in and all of the sudden getting thrown into the mix and having to play, in the playoffs of all things. I thought he started slow a little bit in OTAs – maybe a little bit because of the surgery and the injury – and I think he has gotten better and better and better. I know sometimes it is hard to find bright spots in a game that you lose, but I thought he and [Tray] Walker both were bright spots for us at the corner position. I was pleased. Nothing was perfect by any imagination, but you see improvement."
It should be heavily concerning for his teammates, the Ravens organization, and even the fans that Webb continues to miss time on such a critical season. He has done extraordinary things for the community, but the Ravens have waived fan favorite players before and Webb would not be the last either. Just this offseason, the Ravens shed defensive lineman Haloti Ngata by trading him to Detroit for some lower round picks just because they didn't want to pay him a ton of money for this season and lose him next year since he wasn't agreeing to a long-term deal. Webb could find himself as trade bait next offseason as well as cornerbacks are always in demand and Webb has done well when fully healthy, which admittedly has been quite a while.
For everyone involved, hopefully Lardarius Webb can get over this latest hurdle and come back as a player the Ravens were expecting from day one of this season. He definitely needs to.