One of the areas that the Ravens struggled in with regards to Sunday night's 31-30 win against the New England Patriots was pass defense, and no one appeared to have a tougher outing than cornerback Cary Williams.
On New England's first series of the third quarter, quarterback Tom Brady threw to a receiver in Williams' direction four of five times, and Brandon Lloyd caught three balls for 30 yards and Wes Welker caught one pass for 11 yards.
Brady went back to Williams three more times in the second half, connecting with Lloyd for 13 yards and Welker for seven before misfiring on another pass to Lloyd.
Brady's fondness for attacking the left side of the Ravens defense raised questions about Williams' cover skills, but defensive coordinator Dean Pees said the more appropriate subject to discuss is Brady's ability to read defenses.
"What probably everybody needs to do is watch a little more Brady film and find out there's a lot of corners that struggle," Pees said prior to Tuesday's practice. "There were some back-shoulder fades there, some stop things that they do exceptionally, exceptionally well – as well as any team I've seen in football. I witnessed it for six years when I had some pretty good corners up there with Asante Samuel and some of those, and I've seen them look exactly the same way. So it's hard. You feel like the guy's picking on you or whatever. The thing about Tom is he sees a certain coverage, and it's hard to disguise stuff with him because he is smart and he does a good job of knowing where to go with the ball. If you happen to be the corner playing that position, you're going to be picked on. So I don't think it's as much Cary as I thought that they did a good job. Can we do better? Yeah. He knows he can do better. But I give them some credit on that, too."
Williams' troubles may have revived the debate over whether Jimmy Smith, the team's first-round pick in last year's NFL draft, should be promoted to starter. Pees said the coaching staff evaluates Williams and Smith, who endured his fair share of targets by Brady, on a weekly basis before making its determination.
"That's been a competition from Day 1," Pees said. "That's always been a consideration every game, and every game, we kind of go through it during the week, and those two guys know it. We just kind of rotate things through the week and whoever we feel like is having a better week, that guy could end up being the starter. Way back when, somebody asked me that coming out of training camp. They're all kind of starters in our eyes because we play so much nickel defense that they both end up in there. But that's always a consideration no matter how it was the week before."