When Ravens cornerback Rashaan Melvin was forced into the game last Sunday due to starting cornerback Asa Jackson suffering a season-ending knee injury, he did something different than his fellow defensive backs.
Melvin lined up in press coverage almost every snap, challenging wide receivers and jamming them at the line of scrimmage. The other Ravens' corners have given receivers a lot of cushion all season, frequently allowing short receptions and guarding against deep passes.
Long-armed and lanky at 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, Melvin was effective. He recorded five tackles, one for a loss, nearly intercepted a pass and successfully shadowed Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts on a pivotal fourth down incompletion during the win.
"I can transition easily, but I like playing press," Melvin said. "I like to play both on or off and I can play both, but press coverage is something I'm comfortable and like doing."
Melvin was solid in his first NFL game, enough so that a source predicted he'll start Sunday's road game against the Houston Texans. Melvin went undrafted out of Northern Illinois, where he earned a scholarship after walking on.
"He really did a great job," Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. "I think his eyes got big when I blitzed him, but, hey, he made a tackle for a loss. That's what was key. I'm really proud of the way those guys prepared, and we have to do the same thing this week."
The Texans don't intend to make an announcement, but are expected to start quarterback Case Keenum on Sunday. Whether it's Keenum or Thaddeus Lewis under center isn't of much concern to Melvin.
"I really don't think about the quarterback situation too much at all," Melvin said. "If you're in the NFL, all those guys can play ball. It's not my job to worry about the quarterback situation. It's my job to make sure I'm doing my job and paying attention to detail."