The Ravens’ first takeaway of the 2017 preseason did not come from middle linebacker C.J. Mosley or strong safety Eric Weddle, both of whom tied for the team lead with four interceptions apiece last season.
That honor went to undrafted rookie cornerback Jaylen Hill, who intercepted Washington Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy late in the second quarter of the Ravens’ 23-3 win Thursday night at M&T Bank Stadium. For Hill, who added three tackles to tie for the second-best total behind defensive end Brent Urban’s four, the interception was clearly the highlight of a self-anticipated debut.
“It was only one play, and they told me to move on to the next play, but it was a good time celebrating with those guys and those vets,” Hill said. “That was a big moment for me.”
Hill, 23, refined his ball-hawking skills at Jacksonville State, where his 13 interceptions are the most in that program’s Division I history. Hill perfectly timed his leap to snag McCoy’s pass intended for rookie wide receiver Robert Davis along the right sideline.
“I was surprised that he threw it, but Coach called a good call, and I was just there to make a play,” Hill said.
The Ravens’ top three cornerback spots are filled by Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, and rookie first-round draft pick Marlon Humphrey. Humphrey, Maurice Canady (torn cartilage in knee) and Sheldon Price have not practiced recently because of a variety of injuries. Hill is competing with Trevin Wade, Brandon Boykin, Robertson Daniel, and rookie Reggie Porter, but Thursday’s showing could have given him a slight edge in the race to sway the coaches.
“It is on my mind, and it is in the back of my head,” Hill said of the competition, “but I am just doing what I can control. What I can control is my effort, my attitude and how I come into the day. That is what I am focused on.”