Since the departure of Ed Reed, the Ravens have been sorely lacking a dominant defender in the secondary. Free agents have came and went, high-profile draft picks have been burnt, but throughout it all, first round selection Jimmy Smith has stuck around.
For a while, fans thought that he might be that defensive enigma needed in the pass defense game. After playing a big part in the Super Bowl victory, Smith shut down Calvin Johnson in Detroit, and snagged an elusive Aaron Rodgers interception. The year after it was more of the same, with Smith playing at a Pro Bowl-level and was well on his way to becoming the No. 1 cornerback the Ravens greatly desired. However, a foot sprain shut him down in Week 9, and we haven't seen the same player since then, as the damage done by Smith's injury showed on both the field and the statsheet last season.
There was a little concern that Smith might not return to his previous level of play, given the nature of foot, and in particular, Lisfranc injuries. But his performance in third week of the preseason might have dampered any speculation for now that the old version of the cornerback might never be back.
Ravens CB Jimmy Smith played 30 snaps last night (all against Detroit's first team). He was targeted 4 times and gave up just 18 yards.— Garrett Downing (@gdowning14) August 28, 2016
Smith was excellent against the Detroit passing offense, a respectable attack with a good quarterback and some even better receivers. Anquan Boldin, Marvin Jones, and Golden Tate all pose a formidable threat to any good cornerback, but Smith was able to hold them off despite being heavily targeted.
Smith should be able to rest himself and his foot during the Ravens preseason finale against the Saints. He'll certainly need that break as he and the retooled secondary face the Bills in Week 1. Smith will likely draw the short straw and lineup against Sammy Watkins, one of the league's up-and-coming receivers. It will certainly be a matchup where Smith and the rest of the secondary will be forced to show their true colors.