Hands-on approach paying off for Ravens cornerback Maurice Canady

Maurice Canady was not ready to call his play that cemented the Ravens’ 23-16 win against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday the biggest of his young career. So how about the most important?

“Of course,” the 23-year-old cornerback said Wednesday. “To seal the game, that was pretty big. And it was a time where it was a must-win situation and we were able to come out with the victory.”

Surprisingly, Canady’s pass breakup that prevented quarterback Jacoby Brissett from connecting with wide receiver T.Y. Hilton for a first down with 1:38 left in the fourth quarter was the first of his career. But the sixth-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft has not had much playing time because of a hamstring injury that limited him to only four games last season and torn cartilage in his knee that forced him to sit out the first eight this fall.

Canady has leapfrogged Lardarius Webb as the defense’s primary cornerback in the slot, taking the field for 262 snaps since Nov. 5 compared with Webb’s 77 over the same span.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees credited Canady’s progress to his willingness to learn while he was recovering from injuries.

“The thing that he did was, he stayed kind of in touch and hands-on in the classroom with everything that we were doing,” Pees said Thursday. “Sometimes guys get injured, and they wander away a little bit. I mean, they’re there, but they’re not because they’re not going to play. The good thing about him was I remember a couple times being so impressed that he couldn’t play and he was hurt, but he was taking notes on things that we were talking about at the nickel spot or corner spot. What happens is that stuff all pays off down the road. When you come back, you’re a little bit further ahead than maybe somebody else was that maybe didn’t do all of that stuff. He’s a very conscientious guy that plays hard, and to me, that’s kind of why, kind of who he is. I’ve been very impressed with him.”

Canady said he did not mind being involved in a pressure-heavy situation like the one Saturday against the Colts.

“I wouldn’t say you live for it, but being able to make a play when the team critically needs you, that’s huge,” he said.

While Canady might be lauded as a hero by Ravens fans, his play was not as warmly received in Indianapolis. Canady said people on Twitter have accused him of committing pass interference against Hilton.

“Anytime a cornerback smothers a guy in good coverage, they’re going to ask for a flag,” he said with a smile. “That’s all part of the game.”

Hill’s absence felt: Jaylen Hill played in only six games, making two tackles on special teams. But the rookie cornerback’s season-ending ACL and MCL tears in his right knee were felt by the unit, according to special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg.

“We hate to lose guys, and I talked to Jaylen afterward,” Rosburg said Thursday. “His spirits are strong, and he looks forward to a long career both playing corner and special teams, and we’ll look forward having him back.”

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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