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Ravens' Smith gets thrown into deep end with Webb sidelined

The SportsXchange

The Baltimore Ravens need a winning performance out of former first-round cornerback Jimmy Smith, the replacement for cornerback Lardarius Webb.

Webb is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Smith will be under heavy scrutiny beginning Sunday against Houston Texans and wide receivers Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter.

"Jimmy will be ready," Baltimore strong safety Bernard Pollard said. "Jimmy knows his time is now, so he's got to play. You got to be a grown man in this league."

Smith has a groin injury, and he didn't practice Wednesday, but he is expected to start Sunday.

Drafted last year with the 27th overall pick, Smith is big, strong and fast at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds.

In 18 career games and three starts, Smith has recorded 34 tackles, two interceptions and 11 pass deflections.

Smith leads the defense with five penalties this season. He committed three penalties against the Dallas Cowboys, including encroachment, pass interference and defensive holding in the second half after replacing Webb.

"I've been working hard," Smith said. "I took this offseason to really hone in on my skills and technique. I feel like just being a confident player, I'm ready.

"I think I've grown, but everybody knows I've got a lot of growing still to do as a young player. But I think I've taken some steps in the right direction."

Red flags were raised about Smith heading into the draft. That included failed drug tests, a pair of alcohol-related violations and an arrest for third-degree assault. Those issues, which occurred early in his career at the University of Colorado, haven't followed him to Baltimore.

"As a person, I've been growing since college," Smith said. "It's always a work in progress, but have you heard my name be called one time? I've been doing OK at that."

Smith expects the Texans to go after him.

"Absolutely, I'm a second-year corner," Smith said. "They're definitely going to attack me, but I've got to strap it on and be ready. We definitely have our hands full with these receivers."

Smith is signed to a four-year, $7.46 million rookie contract that includes a $3.92 million signing bonus.

"Once you get drafted, you want to prove what you've got," Smith said. "You want to prove to everybody that you belong. It (stinks) that my opportunity came at a time when another player was hurt, but, at the same time, you've got to step up and show what you've got."
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