Through the first two days of the Ravens' three-day mandatory minicamp, Maurice Canady has lined up primarily as the No. 3 cornerback with Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr on the outside. But if the second-year player is supposed to be wide-eyed about working with the first defense, he is not showing it.
"It's nothing different," he said matter-of-factly after Wednesday morning's practice. "You just have to raise your level of play and play with a sense of confidence."
Canady's rise up the depth chart can be partially traced to Tavon Young's torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee suffered during an organized team activity on June 1. Young's injury opened the door for Canady, a 6-foot-1, 193-pound sixth-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft.
But defensive coordinator Dean Pees said Canady has earned the right to play with the first unit.
"He's had a great camp," Pees said. "We were really sad to lose Tavon obviously, but Maurice has had a great camp. The guy makes plays. Isn't that the whole bottom line on defense? You can measure a guy's vertical jump and speed and all of that kind of stuff, but the bottom line is production, and the guy's made a lot of production here in camp. So I'm really excited to see what he's going to be like in the fall."
The 23-year-old Canady, who dodged a question about whether the slot cornerback job is his to lose, said he has made a concerted effort to improve his ability to play that position.
"I've been working on some things in the offseason," he said. "I had no idea that I was going to be playing in the slot, but matters happen, and now I'm in there. So this offseason, I was working more on quicker movements and that should help me in the slot."
Canady's progress is somewhat surprising considering the thigh injury he sustained against the Oakland Raiders on Oct. 2 that sent him to injured reserve four days later. Canady admitted that sitting on the sideline put him in "a depressive state."
"It feels great just to do the simple things like putting a helmet on and just being with the guys when they make plays," he said. "It's just great to be back out there."
Speaking for the first time since the Ravens used their first four picks and five of seven total selections in the 2017 draft on defensive players, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said Wednesday that he was in step with the front office's plan. "A couple of times, it seemed to me that the defensive player that we took was so good that we needed to take that player — period," he said. "So I'm all for getting the best player. There are so many ways you can acquire players. So there are other ways to acquire offensive players and just recently we have. I'm all about building a football team. So let's get the best guys in here and get the best players that we think will play like Ravens — tough, physical, fast." … Former outside linebacker Jarret Johnson attended practice for the second straight day and worked with Matthew Judon and rookie Tyus Bowser at the strongside linebacker spot afterward.