'My team is going to bounce back' this season, Ravens CB Lardarius Webb says
By By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun|
Jul 20, 2014 at 2:57 PM
During his free youth football camp at Towson University on Saturday, Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb kept throwing the ball until long after his arm had grown tired.
Webb was in a relaxed mood, days before veterans are scheduled to report to the Ravens' complex Wednesday for training camp, smiling and joking as he signed autographs and posed for pictures.
Webb turned serious for a moment when asked if he expects the Ravens to rebound this season following an 8-8 record last year and missing the playoffs for the first time under coach John Harbaugh. A 34-17 road loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the regular-season finale last year prevented the Ravens from qualifying for the postseason.
"Oh yeah, my team is going to bounce back," Webb told The Baltimore Sun. "Last year wasn't that bad. A lot of people want to say it was bad just because we didn't make the playoffs. We don't usually not make the playoffs. A lot of people want to say last year was a horrible year, but it wasn't a horrible year.
"There were a few games that left us out of the playoffs. We just have to learn from it. We have some young guys, and we just have to keep growing up with all those guys. I like where we're at, and we just have to keep on going."
One season removed from winning Super Bowl XLVII, the Ravens struggled to regularly score points as they finished 29th in total offense last year. The defense was stout, for the most part, finishing 12th overall in total defense, but faltered too often late in games as the Ravens ranked 30th in fourth-quarter defense.
Webb had a solid season during his first year back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, but he fell short of his personal standards as he recorded 74 tackles, 22 pass deflections and two interceptions. Webb is intent on recapturing his from from two seasons ago, when he was emerging as one of the top young cornerbacks in the NFL.
"My goals are I just want to get back on track with where the Baltimore Ravens are supposed to be," said Webb, who's entering the third year of a five-year, $50 million contract. "I really don't have any individual goals. A year of getting back to the playoffs and playing in a Super Bowl are all of my goals."
Webb is already anticipating a demanding camp regimen from Harbaugh.
"I can't wait," Webb said. "I know it will be a tough camp, but I'm ready for it. I'm very excited about getting out there on the field with the boys. I'm excited just to get around them. I haven't seen them in a month. It will be good to see them again. They're like my brothers."
The Ravens secondary has undergone a lot of changes since last season, with secondary coach Teryl Austin leaving to become the Detroit Lions' new defensive coordinator and being replaced by former St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo.
The Ravens have shifted Matt Elam to strong safety from free safety, have former Rams safety Darian Stewart atop the depth chart entering camp at free safety, and are still auditioning replacements for veteran nickel back Corey Graham, who signed with the Buffalo Bills in March.
Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson are the top two candidates for the nickel back job vacated by Graham. Brown is the current leader in an ongoing competition.
"Don't sleep on those guys," Webb said. "I keep saying don't sleep on Chykie, but don't sleep on Aas Jackson. Asa Jackson is coming, just know I said that."
The Ravens also signed veteran cornerbacks Aaron Ross and Dominique Franks following successful minicamp tryouts. Ross is a former New York Giants starter who played for Spagnuolo in New York, and Franks is a former Atlanta Falcons fifth-round draft pick.
"It's good to have depth around there because injuries do happen," Webb said. "It's good to have guys like Franks and Ross who can play ball and are proven. It's good to have those guys, cool guys, glad to have them."
This was Webb's first football camp in the area after previously holding camps in Louisiana at his alma mater, Nicholls State, and in his hometown in Opelika, Ala.
The fields were provided by Towson free of charge and included instruction from Webb, former Ravens safety Ed Reed and Penn State safety Adrian Amos, a former Calvert Hall standout.
Roughly 400 boys attended the camp, which was sponsored by Under Armour, Buffalo Wild Wings, Adventure Dental, Vision & Orthodontics and the Maryland National Guard.
"Great turnout," Webb said. "I know they love me, but, man, I didn't know this much. I couldn't ask for anything better with the kids having fun in a nice little area at Towson. I can only imagine what it will be like next year. Baltimore has some talent at some young ages.
"I'm seeing a lot of good talent, smart guys out here. I just wanted to come out and have some fun with them and tell them my little message about keeping God first, doing your homework and keeping dreaming to the fullest and you can be anything you want to be."