By Ken Murray, The Baltimore Sun
6:09 PM EDT, July 9, 2011
For a playoff game lost with three wrenching third-quarter turnovers by the offense, Lardarius Webb took an inordinate amount of blame in January.
The third-year Ravens cornerback hasn't forgotten. When he turned up at McDaniel College Saturday as a guest instructor for Derrick Mason's Sports International football camp, the chip on Webb's shoulder was unmistakable despite the broad smile on his face.
"It's over. It happened. I don't care about all that," Webb said as he sat through the lunch break signing autographs for fans young and old. "That wasn't the play that lost the game."
On the play in question, Webb was beaten over the top for a 58-yard catch by Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown, who actually pinned the ball to his helmet as he stepped out of bounds. The Steelers capitalized with the winning touchdown moments later to eliminate the Ravens.
Webb, 25, has moved on. But the scalding he says he took in the media in the aftermath stays with him.
And although Webb denied the Ravens' selection of cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Chykie Brown in the April draft had any effect on him, that subject seemed to touch a nerve with the former third-round pick.
"You can stop asking me about that draft because I don't care about [drafting] Jimmy Smith," he said. "Me and him could be great together. … I'm thinking he's a good addition to our squad. Why not pick a good player in the draft we all [will] be happy with? I want us to be two great corners, two of the greatest corners who ever played the game together. Why not that? Why do I have to be mad because they drafted him?"
During and after the draft, Ravens officials spoke admiringly about the physical assets of both Smith (6 feet 2) and Brown (5-11). At least one of the comments caught Webb's attention.
"One of those guys said they wanted corners with size, [inferring] the ones we have now are too small," Webb said. "I'm just ready to play ball, man. I don't care who they drafted. They could've got five or six corners, I don't care.
"I guess I'm too small."
Webb is a lean 5-10 and 175 pounds, with elite quickness and agility. His path to the NFL was not the conventional route coming out of Nicholls State in 2009. Nevertheless, he became a starting corner his rookie season and came back from knee surgery last year to reclaim the job.
Despite missing the first game in 2010, he delivered a career-high 60 tackles in 15 regular-season games with two interceptions and 11 passes defended. In the playoff loss at Pittsburgh, he had a chance to be the hero when he returned a punt 55 yards to the end zone in the fourth quarter. But a holding penalty erased the touchdown and set up the Ravens' downfall.
Given the flux at his position — Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington all will be unrestricted free agents when the lockout ends, and Domonique Foxworth is coming off knee surgery — Webb should remain a starter in the secondary.
"I'm going to be the starter," he said. "I don't think they can draft somebody that's better than me. I don't think they've got anybody better than me."
Webb has never lacked confidence, but he has rarely been outspoken about it until now. At the same time, he appears uncertain about his future in Baltimore.
"All I can worry about is me," he said. "If they want me, they're going to keep me. If they don't, then they'll get rid of me. … I love Baltimore. I would want to play in Baltimore the rest of my career. If it happens, it happens."
Members of the Ravens' organization have declined interview requests recently in light of the lockout.
Webb spent most of this summer in North Miami working out in Pete Bommarito's Performance Systems program, along with Brendon Ayanbadejo, Donte' Stallworth and Tavares Gooden, among others.
This is the second straight summer he has not been able to take advantage of the Ravens' offseason workouts. He missed last summer's camps while rehabilitating his knee.
This summer, he has hosted his own football camp in Opelika, Ala., and participated in several others, including Ravens safety Ed Reed's in Louisiana.
"I see myself in all kids," Webb said. "I love kids, so I'm giving back to kids. This is something I wanted to do since I was in college."
What message did he want to deliver to young, aspiring football players?
"I tell them, 'No. 1, keep God first. No. 2, always do your homework every night. No. 3, if you do all of that, then you can be anything you want to be.'"
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