Is it a coincidence that Lardarius Webb, who wears No. 21, is beginning to show signs of succeeding the Ravens’ previous shutdown corner in Chris McAlister, who also wore No. 21 before leaving the team in 2008?

Time will tell if Webb can meet the standards that McAlister set when he patrolled the defensive backfield for the Ravens, but Webb didn’t shy away from the perhaps premature comparison.

“That’s the goal,” Webb said. “My ultimate goal is to be the best cornerback on this team, then the AFC and then the NFL. That’s my goal. I want to be the best. So I’ll just keep putting work in and try to get there.”

Webb has made quite an impression in his first season as a starter. The third-year player from Division I-AA Nicholls State is tied with seven-time Pro Bowl free safety Ed Reed for the team lead in interceptions with three. Webb also is tied with fellow starting cornerback Cary Williams for the team lead in pass breakups with 12 and ranks second in tackles with 52.

Webb credited Reed with helping him setting a career high in interceptions after grabbing two interceptions in his first two seasons.

“I give all three picks to him,” Webb said. “It’s us communicating, communication during the week, him teaching me this game, him always on me, keeping me focused, keeping me in the right position on the field. It’s all due to him. I’m not trying to compete with him. I would love to end the season with more picks than he does, but I’m just glad to be here to learn from him. If he hadn’t taught me what he taught me, I wouldn’t have any of those picks.”

Webb was drafted in the third round in 2009 as a cornerback despite spending a majority of his time at Nicholls State as a safety. Webb, who had to overcome a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee late in 2009, said he has found his comfort zone at cornerback.

“This is my third year at the corner position, and I’m learning more,” Webb said. “It’s like I’m seeing this position. It’s me now. I can feel things. In my first two years, I just couldn’t feel those things because I’m used to feeling things at safety. But I like it. I’m enjoying it.”