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Rookies Courtney Upshaw and Bernard Pierce, and veterans like Matt Birk and Ray Lewis are all expected to make their 2012 preseason debuts tonight against the Detroit Lions. But the guy who may be under the microscope the most -- assuming he plays -- is Jimmy Smith. The second-year cornerback appeared to have his back lock up on him late in Wednesday’s practice, forcing him to exit. He missed last week’s preseason opener, and four or five days of practice time, with back spasms. Earlier in camp, he exited one practice after straining his shoulder, and another after cramping up. Smith, a first-round pick last year, came to camp in great shape and looking extremely motivated to push Cary Williams for his starting cornerback job. He spent a lot of time in the offseason at the Ravens’ facility and in the weight room, and team officials raved about his work ethic and commitment. So it has to be disappointing that the injuries have cropped up in training camp, especially after he essentially missed four games last season with a high ankle sprain. Whether he starts or not, the Ravens are going to need him on the field with all of the top quarterbacks and pass-happy teams that they play.
By Jeff Zrebiec
August 17, 2012