When New England Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib left the AFC championship game in January with an injured hamstring in the first quarter, his anticipated matchup with Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith ended abruptly.
Although Talib has been battling a hip injury this season, the veteran cornerback leads New England with four interceptions and 13 pass deflections and is expected to get another chance to cover Smith on Sunday.
"He's a great corner," said Smith, who leads the Ravens with a career-high 59 receptions for 1,032 yards. "He's physical. He can run and he's been playing at a very high level."
Talib told New England reporters he regards Smith as one of the fastest receivers in the game. Smith is averaging 17.5 yards per reception and has four touchdowns.
"We all know how fast he is," Talib said to New England reporters of Smith, who caught four passes for 69 yards in the AFC title game. "He's up there. Put him up there with the Mike Wallaces and Calvin Johnsons. Man, they're burners."
In a loss to Wallace and the Miami Dolphins last week, Talib only allowed two receptions for 22 yards. Earlier this season, he had a strong game against New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham.
"A very talented guy," offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said about Talib. "One of the things that you'll find is that they will match him up on your best receiver, regardless of where he plays. Oftentimes, you'll find guys that just matchup on receivers when they're on the outside, corners in particular, and they leave the nickel backs on the inside.
"Some teams will take guys and place them inside, anticipating he may get that particular guy off of him, things of that nature. He will match him all over the field, no matter where he lines up,and he does a very good job of it."