Following the potential season-ending neck injury to slot cornerback Tavon Young, Baltimore must find a new player to man the position. Luckily for the Ravens, cornerback is one of the deepest positions on the roster, leaving John Harbaugh with several qualified candidates.
It’s not impossible that Young could play this season, however.
Harbaugh said that Tavon Young still weighing his options on whether to have surgery or not. Young will almost certainly start season on IR. The question is whether he returns in second half.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) August 17, 2019
If Young elects not to have surgery, he will presumably start the season on injured reserve, where he could be one of two players to return later in the season. For now, though, Harbaugh must plan for life without his starting slot corner, which he implied could mean a rotation of different players.
Harbaugh said Ravens will probably use more guys in slot with Young out. Won’t be just one guy.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) August 17, 2019
Veteran Brandon Carr is one of those players that could take up Young’s duties. Carr has played well for the Ravens since signing with the team in 2017. He has flourished in a rotational role with cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphrey on the outside. Carr has also played in the slot for Baltimore and has even taken snaps at safety in practice this offseason. His versatility is vital for filling the shoes of one of the NFL’s best slot cornerbacks.
Cornerback Cyrus Jones is another likely candidate for the job. Jones was signed by the Ravens during the 2018 season to serve as the team’s punt returner. Jones was drafted by the New England Patriots in 2016 but struggled with fumbles on returns during his time there. Jones played well for Baltimore though, even returning one punt for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders in the pivotal final stretch of the season. Jones has seen considerable reps at corner in the preseason, and while not overly impressive, he did return an interception for a touchdown against Jacksonville in Week 1.
Some of the other potential players include second-year corner Anthony Averett, a former fourth-round pick out of Alabama, and rookie Iman Lewis-Marshall, a fourth-round pick out of USC. Both Averett and Marshall may not be ideal fits for a role in the slot, but they remain options at this time.
Finding a proper replacement for Young will be critical for this season as many top-notch wide receivers often play from the slot, including Jarvis Landry of the Cleveland Browns.