In less than three weeks with the Ravens, Marqueston Huff had carved out a role on special teams. On Sunday, he proved he can play defense, too.
After losing starting free safety Lardarius Webb to a hamstring injury in the third quarter against the New York Jets, and with backup Kendrick Lewis on injured reserve because of a thigh injury, the Ravens turned to the 5-foot-11, 196-pound Huff to fill the void. The third-year pro did not record a defensive statistic in the 24-16 loss, but he wasn't a liability in the secondary, either.
"It's always good to get out there and try to make an impact on the defensive side of the ball," Huff said after Wednesday's practice. "I play a lot on special teams, and that's something I pride myself on. But to get in there and show that I understand the defense and that I can get in there without us missing a beat, I think it's a good step for me, and it's a good thing to show the coaches and the people upstairs that you can rely on me and you can count on me."
Huff, a former fourth-round pick of the Tennessee Titans, was signed off the Jacksonville Jaguars' practice squad Oct. 6 to replace rookie cornerback Maurice Canady (thigh), who was placed on IR the same day. After being deactivated before a 16-10 loss to the Washington Redskins on Oct. 9, Huff made a tackle on special teams in a 27-23 loss to the New York Giants on Oct. 16.
Huff had not played on defense in a regular-season game since the 2015 season finale for the Tennessee Titans, but getting thrust into action Sunday did not catch him off guard.
"I came here to help out on special teams and also be a factor on defense," Huff said, adding that he felt comforted by the presence of strong safety Eric Weddle. "So when you get the opportunity to get into the game and play, you want to come in and you want to be prepared and you want to make plays. So I feel like that's what I've been preparing myself for every week. I prepare like I'm going into the game like I'm a starter. I just feel like that helped me when I got in there on Sunday. I didn't go in there confused. I knew exactly what I was supposed to do."
Webb did not practice Tuesday and Wednesday, leaving the Ravens with just three healthy safeties in Weddle, Huff and Anthony Levine Sr. Webb will have the bye week to aid his recovery, but the defense might need every available player healthy in Week 9 against the Pittsburgh Steelers' No. 9 passing offense, especially if quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returns from arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.
"Well, you're always worried about any depth at any position," defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. "I think anybody around the league would tell you everybody's thin at every position. But I thought that Huff went in there and did a pretty good job. For only being here for a short amount of time, I thought the guy went in there and did a very good job."
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